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GIFT  OF 
W.  A.   Setchell 


I 


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THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 


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^Vi^.a.^DQyu. 


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Copyright,  1905,  by 
Perceval  Landon 


Published  February ^  ^9^S 


THE  AMERICAN   EDITION   OF  THIS   BOOK 

IS  DEDICATED  TO 

W.  W.  ROCKHILL,   ESQ^, 

HIS  country's   foremost   REPRESENTATIVE  IN 

THE  FIELD  OF  TIBETAN  EXPLORATION 


46446G 


1 


CONTENTS 


CHAPTER  PAGE 

I  Former  Explorations  of  Tibet 3  . 

•in  The  Reasons  for  the  Expedition 18 

III  Crossing  the  Himalayas       40 

IV  The  Tibetans  of  the  Chumbi  Valley 62 

^  V  The  Fight  at  the  Wall        75 

VI  Forcing  the  Way  to  Gyantse 86 

VII  Life  in  a  Tibetan  Town 99 

VIII  Attacked  by  the  Tibetans  ' 123 

i  IX  The  Dalai  Lama  shows  his  Hand 143 

X  Life  in  the  Besieged  Post 169 

XI  Religion:  Manners  and  Customs:  Art 184 

'4x11  Internal  History  of  Lhasa  1902-4 210 

xiii  Lamaism 232 

ixiv  The  Relief  of  the  Mission 253 

XV  The  Advance  to  Lhasa 272 

XVI  The  Last  Stage        297 

XVII  Lhasa,  I       319 

XVIII  The  Environs  of  Lhasa 348 

XIX  The  Potala  and  the  Cathedral 372 

XX  The  Ride  from  Lhasa  to  India 397 

Appendices 417 


LIST   OF    ILLUSTRATIONS 

The  Turquoise  Bridge  in  Lhasa Frontispiece 

FACING   PAGE 

A  Tibetan  Monk  with  his  Prayer-wheel 24 

A  Road  in  the  Himalayas 42 

Encamped  under  the  Shadow  of  the  Himalayas 44 


V 


Member  of  the  Expedition 68 

Outfitted  to  cross  the  high  passes  of  the  Himalayas  in  July 

The  Two  Abbots  of  a  Tibetan  Monastery 72 

Awaiting  an  Attack  by  the  Tibetans 80 

Just  Before  the  Fight  at  the  Wall 82 

The  Gurkha  scouts  deployed  on  the  hillside;   the  Sikhs  beginning  to  disarm  the 
Tibetans  at  the  further  end  of  the  wall 

A  Few  Minutes  Later 84 

The  British  force  still  firing  at  the  retreating  Tibetans 

The  Expedition  Halting  for  the  Night •.    *    ,    .    90 

The  High  Priest  at  Gyantse 92 

"^      "  Who  looks  like  a  saddened  Falstaff  " 

A  Valley  near  Samonda 94 

East  End  of  the  Jong,  or  Fortress,  at  Gyantse 94 

The  Town  of  Gyantse 100 

Mural  Paintings  in  the  Lamasery  of  Palkhor  Choide 102 

Images  of  Some  of  the  Great  Buddhist  Teachers  Worshiped  by  the 
Tibetans       104 

In  the  Palkhor  Choide 

SJaily  Bedecked  Yaks  Drawing  a  Plow , 106 

A  Long-haired  Monk  at  his  Monastery 108 

The  Window  of  a  Hermit  Cell  at  Nyen-de-kyi-buk  . iio 

Prisoners  Captured  by  the  Mission  in  the  Karola  Fight 140 

Examples  of  Tibetan-Chinese  Workmanship 204 

Specimens  of  Chinese-Tibetan  Work  in  Silver 206 

\Cibetan  Children  Characteristically  Employed  in  a  Gyantse  Street  208 

A  Tibetan  Political  Agent 216 

The  Ta  Lama  at  Taski-tse 218 

ix 


X  LIST   OF   ILLUSTRATIONS 

FACING  PAGE 

Monks  Walking  on  a  Terrace  beneath  Lines  of  Prayer-flags  .    ,    .  234 
The  Chinese  Wall  across  the  Ammo  chu  at  Chorten  Karpo  .    .    .  268 

The  Mountains  that  Surround  Lhasa 300 

Chak-sam  Monastery 300 

The  March  to  Lhasa 304 

The  omnipresent  prayer-flags  and  cairns  beside  the  road  to  exorcise  evil  spirits 

The  Western  Gate  of  Lhasa 322 

Lhasa,  Dominated  by  the  Towering  Bulk  of  the  Potala 324 

■» 

The  Amban,  the  Chinese  Representative  in  Lhasa,  Coming  to  Con- 
fer with  Colonel  Younghusband , 326 

The  Chinese  Representatives  in  Lhasa  Meeting  Colonel  Young- 
husband  FOR  the  First  Time 328 

The  Amban  Coming  out  from  Lhasa  on  his  Way  to  Meet  the  Mission  330 

A  Street  Scene  in  Lhasa  :  Near  the  Chinese  Quarter 332 

The  Entrance  to  the  Chinese  Amban's  Residence  at  Lhasa  .    .  • .    .  334 

Ornaments  of  a  Tibetan  Altar 336 

A  Horn  Hut 336 

The  Lukang  Garden 338 

The  Sacred  Elephant  in  the  Lukang  Gardens  in  Lhasa 340 

Tibetan  Woods  and  Meadows  near  Lhasa 348 

The  Elaborate  Detail  of  Tibetan  Architecture 350 

In  the  Grounds  of  the  Lha-lu  House,  the  Headquarters  of  the  Mis- 
sion IN  Lhasa 352 

^ Street  Scene  in  the  Wizard  Community  of  the  Na-chung  Chos- 
:yong  at  Lhasa 356 

A  Close  View  of  the  Potala 372 

The  Mission  Entering  Lhasa 374 

The  Potala,  the  Home  of  the  Grand  Lama 376 

The  Potala  at  Lhasa,  an  Architectural  Marvel 378 

The  Exterior  of  the  Jo-kang  Temple,  the  Holy  of  Holies  of  all 
^A.SIA 384 

The  Jo-kang,  with  the  Most  Gorgeous  Interior  of  all  the  Tibetan 
Temples,  has  Practically  no  Exterior 386 

The  Great  Buddha  in  the  Holy  of  Holies  at  Lhasa 392 


INTRODUCTORY    NOTE 

We  of  the  Tibet  Mission  and  its  escort  were  honored  with  the 
conduct  of  a  task  which  for  fascination  of  interest  could  hardly 
be  surpassed.  Few,  if  any,  of  us  doubted  the  wisdom  of  the  great 
and  far-seeing  statesman  who  initiated  the  enterprise  and  in- 
spired it  throughout.  But,  whether  the  policy  was  wise  or  un- 
wise, we  determined  that  it  should  not  suffer  in  the  execution. 
On  us,  we  felt,  were  fixed  the  eyes  of  many  millions,  not  in  India 
alone,  nor  in  England  alone,  but  all  over  Europe  and  America 
also,  and  in  many  an  Asiatic  country  besides. 

We  who  work  in  India  know  what  prestige  means.  Through- 
out the  expedition  we  felt  that  our  national  honor  was  at  stake, 
and  down  to  the  latest- joined  sepoy  we  bent  ourselves  to  uphold 
and  raise  higher  the  dignity  of  our  Sovereign  and  the  good  name 
of  our  country:  to  show  that  not  even  the  rigors  of  a  Tibetan 
winter  nor  the  'obstinacy  and  procrastination  of  the  two  most 
stolid  nations  in  the  world  could  deter  us  from  our  purpose; 
above  all,  to  try  to  effect  that  purpose  without  resorting  to  force. 
If,  as  unfortunately  proved  to  be  the  case,  fighting  were  inevi- 
table, we  were  determined  still  to  show  moderation  in  the  hour 
of  victory,  and  to  let  the  ignorant  Tibetan  leaders  see  that  we 
would  respect  them  as  we  demanded  they  should  respect  us,  and, 
in  place  of  distrust,  to  establish  a  confidence  between  us  which 
would  prove  the  surest  foundation  for  future  relations. 

A  loss  of  life  was  indeed  necessitated  which  every  one  of  us 
regretted;  yet  I  for  one  believe  that  at  any  rate  some  good  will 

xi 


xii  INTRODUCTORY   NOTE 

come  to  the  Tibetans  as  the  result  of  our  work.  War  does  not 
always  mean  oppression.  Nor  does  the  breaking  of  the  power 
of  a  despotic  Government  mean  the  down-treading  of  the  people. 

From  the  first  the  Tibetan  peasantry  showed  good-will  toward 
us.  They  were  especially  anxious  to  trade— no  keener  traders 
could  be  found.  We  have,  as  one  result,  partially  freed  the 
people  from  the  terrible  incubus  of  priestly  control,  and  there  are 
unmistakable  signs  that  we  left  them  better  disposed  toward 
us  after  our  advance  to  Lhasa  than  they  were  before.  Owing  to 
the  magnificent  behavior  of  the  troops,  the  confidence  of  the  peo- 
ple was  entirely  gained.  Villagers  and  traders  thronged  to  our 
camps.  Soldiers  went  about  unmolested  in  every  part  of  the 
Lhasa  bazaar.  Officers  were  admitted  to  the  most  sacred  shrines. 
Captain  O'Connor,  my  right-hand  man  in  dealing  with  the  Tibe- 
tans, was  received  not  only  with  real  ceremony,  but  with  real 
warmth,  by  the  Tashi  Lama  at  Shigatse.  And,  last  but  by  no 
means  least,  Tibetan  wool-merchants  are  already  making  ar- 
rangements for  trading  with  India. 

How  all  this  was  effected  none  can  tell  better  than  Mr.  Lan- 
don.  He  reveled  in  the  mysteries  of  Tibet,  and  appreciated  to 
the  full  the  wonderful  scenery  which  to  my  mind  was  infinitely 
the  most  fascinating  of  all  our  experiences.  I  have  not  had  the 
advantage  of  reading  the  proofs  of  his  book,  and  I  cannot  be 
responsible  for  any  political  views  which  he  may  have  expressed. 
But  I  feel  confident  that  no  more  competent  chronicler  of  what 
the  Tibet  Mission  saw  and  did  could  be  found,  and  we  were 
indeed  fortunate  in  having  with  us  one  of  his  enthusiasm  and 
powers  of  description. 

F.  E.   YOUNGHUSBAND. 
London, 

December,  1904. 


TO  FRANK  YOUNGHUSBAND 

My  dear  Colonel  : 

It  was  into  the  mouth  of  a  British  chieftain  in  the  first  century 
that  Tacitus  put  a  criticism  which  has  become  famous.  "  Men," 
protested  Calgacus,  "  are  apt  to  be  impressed  chiefly  by  the  un- 
known," In  a  sense,  somewhat  different  from  that  in  which  it  was 
originally  intended,  this  estimate  has  remained  just  to  the  present 
day.  Spread  out  the  map  of  the  world  and  there  before  you  is 
proof  enough  of  one  of  the  most  marked,  most  persistent — perhaps 
also  one  of  the  best — characteristics  of  an  Englishman.  You  are 
but  the  latest  of  a  succession  of  explorers  which  has  no  rival  in 
the  history  of  another  race.  The  sturdy  trampings  of  Sir  John 
Mandeville,  perhaps  also  his  even  more  robust  imaginings— be 
it  remembered,  that  without  the  latter  we  should  not  have  had  the 
former — have  had  their  successors  in  unbroken  line  to  the  pres- 
ent day.  Other  nations  have  had  their  home-keeping  centuries— 
years  in  which  the  needs  of  commerce  or  high  politics  have  de- 
manded that  they  should  for  a  time  develop  and  not  explore.  But, 
decade  after  decade,  the  English  have  always  had  their  represen- 
tatives creeping  on  a  little  beyond  the  margin  of  the  traveled  world 
—men  to  whom  beaten  tracks  were  a  burden,  men  for  whom  the 
"  free  air  astir  to  windward  "  was  inevitably  more  than  the  new- 
found territory,  however  rich,  upon  which  they  were  just  turning 
their  backs. 

Century  after  century  it  is  the  same  old  story.  The  instinctive 
tracks  of  voyagers  in  Elizabethan  years;  the  restlessness  ashore  of 
merchant  'venturers  the  moment  Blake  had  won  for  them  and  for 
us  the  peaceful  occupation  of  the  seas;  the  lonely  dotted  lines  that 
drive  a  thin  furrow  of  knowledge  across  the  blank  salt  wastes  of 
Australia ;  the  quick  evaporation  of  the  mists  of  African  ignorance ; 
above  all,  the  prosaic  English  place-names  of  arctic  peak  and  tropical 
island  and  anchorage,  unrevisited  and  unknown,  except  by  a  shore- 
line on  an  Admiralty  chart  no  longer  dotted  as  conjectural— all 

xiii 


XIV 

these  have  carried  on  an  unconscious  tradition;  and  there  is  no 
apology  needed  for  the  present  story  of  another  English  expedition 
which  won  its  way  where  all  other  living  men  have  failed  to  go. 

For  us  the  door  was  opened,  and  though  it  has  now  again  been 
locked  as  grimly  as  before,  at  least  for  many  months  we  have  lived 
in  the  very  heart  of  the  real  Tibet.  The  course  of  our  expedition 
lay  through  no  deserted  wastes  of  sand,  through  which  a  stealthy 
or  disguised  European  creeps  painfully  from  water-hole  to  water- 
hole,  avoiding  the  least  sign  of  man  or  human  habitation,  learning 
little  and  caring  to  learn  less  of  the  people  from  whose  notice  he 
is  shrinking.  We  have  moved  through  the  only  populous  and 
politically  important  districts  of  the  country,  we  have  made  our  stay 
in  the  centers  of  Tibetan  life,  and  of  necessity  we  were  brought  into 
immediate  contact  with  that  mysterious  government  and  religion 
upon  which  no  other  European  transgressor  into  the  forbidden  land 
has  been  able  to  throw  the  light  of  personal  knowledge.  It  has 
been  but  a  passing  chance,  but  perhaps  for  that  very  reason  the 
more  interest  attaches  to  the  simplest  account  of  men  and  places 
upon  which  the  curtain  has  again  impenetrably  fallen. 

Yes,  the  chance  has  been  a  great  one,  but  there  is  a  touch  of 
regret  in  our  ability  to  use  it.  One  canpot  forget  that  the  net- 
work of  baffled  explorers'  routes  which  circumnavigate  and  sheer 
painfully  off  from  Lhasa,  represents  the  last  of  the  greater  ex- 
plorations possible  on  this  earth.  The  barriers  that  guard  the 
pole  are  of  nature's  making  only.  It  is  not  endurance  only,  or  even 
chiefly,  that  has  attracted  us  in  the  past,  but  for  the  future  there 
will  be  little  else  for  our  explorer  to  fight.  The  hostility  of  man, 
which  has  added  a  spice  of  interest  to  all  exploration  hitherto,  will 
never  again  whet  the  ambition  of  a  voyager  to  an  undiscovered  land. 

That  the  last  country  to  be  discovered  by  the  civilized  world 
should  be  one  which  has  few  rivals  in  its  religious  interests  and 
importance,  fewer  still  in  the  isolated  development  of  its  national 
characteristics,  and  none  in  its  unique  government  and  policy  is  a 
fitting  close  to  the  pioneer  work  of  civilization ;  and  that  the  English, 
who  have  long  been  faithful  servants  of  that  restlessness  on  which 
all  progress  is  based,  should  have  done  the  work,  is  not  unjust; 
and  that  you,  my  dear  Younghusband,  should  have  been  chosen 
to  lead  this  rear-guard  of  exploration  was  for  all  concerned  a  good 
deal  more  than  fortunate.  In  these  pages  I  do  not  intend  to  praise, 
or  indeed  lay  greater  stress  upon  your  work,  or  that  of  others,  than 
such  as  the  bare  narrative  may  of  itself  suggest  from  time  to  time. 


XV 

but  I  am  none  the  less  aware  of  the  debt  which  this  country  owes 

to  your  quiet  constancy  and  determination. 

I  am, 

My  dear  Younghusband, 

Sincerely  yours, 

Perceval  Landon. 
5  Pall  Mall  Place,  London, 

January  ist,  1905. 


AN   ACKNOWLEDGMENT 

Writers  on  Tibet  have  acquired  an  unenviable  reputation  for  con- 
cealing their  indebtedness  to  other  workers  in  the  same  field;  I 
take  this  opportunity  of  saying  that  it  would  be  difficult  for  me  to 
set  down  the  full  number  of  those  to  whom  I  am  indebted  for  help 
in  the  writing  of  this  work.  Besides  the  authors  of  all  books 
on  the  subject,  I  am  glad  to  think  that  there  is  hardly  a  man  on 
the  expedition  who,  consciously  or  not,  has  not  added  his  tale  of 
help  to  the  book,  and  will  not  recognize  lurking  in  some  phrase 
or  footnote  a  fact  which  could  only  have  been  given  me  by  himself. 
Some,  however,  I  must  single  out  for  my  especial  thanks,  and  in 
mentioning  these  I  trust  that  I  may  not  be  regarded  as  ungrateful 
by  those  whose  names  I  am  compelled  to  omit.  The  actual  writer 
of  such  a  book  as  this  is  among  the  last  to  whom  a  reader  should 
feel  gratitude. 

To  Sir  Francis  Younghusband,  to  Lord  Curzon,  and  to  Captain 
W.  F.  T.  O'Connor,  to  Captain  H.  J.  Walton,  Lord  Ampthill,  and 
the  late  Major  Bretherton,  to  Mr.  Claude  White,  Lieutenant-Colonel 
L.  A.  Waddell,  Colonel  Sir  James  R.  L.  Macdonald,  Captain  C.  H. 
D.  Ryder,  and  Captain  H.  M.  Cowie,  to  Mr.  E.  C.  Wilton,  Lieuten- 
ant-Colonels Iggulden  and  Beynon,  Mr.  H.  H.  Hayden,  and  to 
Majors  Sheppard  and  Ottley,  my  obligations  throughout  the  fol- 
lowing pages  are  continual  and,  I  hope,  obvious.  Less  patent  but 
almost  equally  indispensable  for  any  success  has  been  the  help  I 
have  received  from  Mr.  L.  Dane,  Sir  Edward  Maunde  Thompson, 
Mr.  Filson  Young,  Mr.  Herbert  Blackett,  Mr.  A.  W.  Paul,  and  Mr. 
Valentine  Chirol.  I  should  be  glad  to  receive  any  additional  in- 
formation, notes,  or  criticisms,  as  I  hope  to  make  of  "  The  Opening 
of  Tibet "  a  work  of  Tibetan  reference,  and,  in  any  future  edition,, 
shall  carefully  revise  the  book  up  to  date. 


>      >    )„   >    J  J   ^  J 

>   1         J      ')      >  ,         , 


THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 


THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 


CHAPTER  I 

FORMER   EXPLORATIONS   OF   TIBET 

THE  earliest  historical  relic  of  the  Tibetans— like  that  of 
many,  perhaps  of  most,  other  races — is  a  weather-beaten 
stone,  the  Do-ring.  It  stands  in  the  center  of  Lhasa,  across  the 
courtyard  in  front  of  the  western  doors  of  the  Cathedral  or  Jo- 
kang,  beneath  the  famous  willow-tree.  Like  Asoka's  pillars  on 
the  one  hand  or  the  Black  Stone  of  Mukden  on  the  other,  it  both 
records  a  treaty  and  is  the  outward  symbol  of  the  prosperity  of 
Tibet.  One  might  also  add  that,  like  the  Omphalos  at  Delphi  or 
London  Stone,  it  is  to  the  Tibetans  not  only  the  center  of  their 
strange  shoulder-blade-shaped  earth,  but,  more  practical,  the  goal 
from  which  their  journeys  and  stages  are  reckoned.  But  the  Do- 
ring  is  even  more  than  this.  The  terms  of  the  treaty  of  783  a.d., 
now  barely  decipherable  upon  its  cup-marked  surface,  corroborate, 
in  some  degree,  the  legendary  history  of  Tibet  so  far  as  it  can  be 
found  in  Chinese  chronicles. 

This  history  is  not  one  of  great  interest,  and  may  be  chiefly 
dismissed  as  one  of  continued  hostility  with  China,  but  of  hos- 
tility on  equal  terms.  That  the  result  of  these  border  skirmish- 
ings was  by  no  means  as  uniformly  satisfactory  to  China  as  one 
might  imagine  from  her  version  of  the  events,  is  clear,  for  about 
the  year  640  a.d.  the  King  of  Tibet,  Srong-tsan-gambo,  succeeded 
in  obtaining  the  hand  of  a  princess  of  the  imperial  house  of  Tang 
against  the  will  of  the  emperor  and  after  some  years'  fighting. 

3 


1 

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*       <        *     *     '<<     K 
•I  t      €  *      , 

r     r  r         f 


4  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

The  story  of  this  Srong-tsan-gambo  is  incrusted  with  incon- 
sistent legend.  He  appears  to  have  been  a  devout  Buddhist,  to 
have  married  also  a  Nepalese  princess,  to  have  led  an  army  into 
India,  where,  about  the  year  648,  he  inflicted  a  defeat  upon  the 
King  of  Magadha,  from  which  place  he  carried  off  the  famous 
image  which  is  to  this  day  the  chief  and  central  treasure  of  the  Jo- 
kang.  Another  story  says  that  it  was  presented  as  a  free  gift 
from  the  Buddhists  of  Magadha  by  the  hand  of  the  returning 
Tonmi-Sambhota,  a  minister  whom  Srong-tsan-gambo  had  de- 
spatched to  India  to  inquire  more  perfectly  about  the  Buddhist 
religion.  The  legend  that  this  man  introduced  writing,  and  his 
Chinese  wife  several  of  the  best-known  arts  of  her  own  country, 
merely  reflects  the  impetus  given  to  foreign  influences  in  Lhasa 
by  the  origin  and  travels  of  the  two. 

Srong-tsan-gambo's  grandson,  Ti-srong-de-tsan,  resumed  hos- 
tilities with  China,  and  in  763  actually  sacked  the  capital,  Chan- 
gan,  or  Hsia-Fu.  Before  that  he  also  had  given  proof  of  his 
Buddhist  zeal  by  inviting  the  famous  Buddhist  saint  Padma 
Sambhava  to  visit  his  country.  This  was  a  more  important  mat- 
ter than  it  then  appeared,  and  was  destined  to  mold  indefinitely 
the  future  of  Tibet ;  for,  apart  from  his  personal  influence  at  the 
time,  this  man,  known  also  as  Padma  Pani  or  the  Guru  Rinpoche, 
founded  the  Samye  monasteries  and  the  Red  Cap  school  in  749, 
and  eventually  reappears  as  the  central  figure  of  Lamaism — actu- 
ally more  important  than  the  Buddha  himself  in  its  tradition  and 
ritual.  And  it  is  his  soul,  itself  a  re-incarnation  of  that  of  Ami- 
tabha,  the  Bodisat,  which  is  born  again  both  in  the  person  of  the 
Grand  Lama  of  Tashi-lhunpo,  and,  vicariously,  as  Avalokites- 
wara,  in  the  body  of  the  Dalai  Lama  or  Grand  Lama  of  Lhasa 
also.  To  this  king  Ti-srong-de-tsan  must  be  credited  more  than 
military  skill  or  religious  fervor.  It  is  clear  that  the  position  of 
Tibet  as  a  sacrosanct  center  of  religion  is  due  to  his  recognition 
of  the  vast  importance  of  Tibet  as  offering  a  permanent  home  to 


FORMER  EXPLORATIONS  OF  TIBET  5 

the  faith  which  was  being  slowly  but  completely  expelled  from 
India  at  this  time.  War  after  war  followed  his  death,  and  in 
or  about  783  his  successor,  King  Ralpachan,  made  with  the  Em- 
peror Tai-tsang  the  Second  the  treaty  which  is  engraved  upon  the 
Do-ring  at  Lhasa.  It  is  to  be  noted  that  the  high-sounding 
epithets  which  the  contracting  parties  apply  to  themselves  already 
reflect  the  semi-sacred  and  mystic  importance  of  Tibet. 

These  dry  particulars  are  necessary  in  order  to  understand 
much  of  later  Lamaism,  but  the  era  of  important  legend  closes 
with  the  assassination  of  Lang-darma,  the  younger  brother  of 
\^  Ralpachan,  who  had  ascended  the  throne  in  899.  Lang-darma, 
who  had  murdered  his  brother  to  clear  the  way  for  his  own  suc- 
cession, is  the  Buddhist  Julian,  and  the  assassination  of  this  perse- 
cutor of  the  faith  is  still  annually  observed  in  Lhasa  on  the 
threshold  of  the  Jo-kang,  where  a  fanatic  monk  achieved  his 
purpose  at  the  cost  of  his  own  life.  From  this  date  onward  Tibet 
was  divided  into  a  large  number  of  petty  principalities,  and  its 
history  is  for  many  centuries  obscure.  Lamaism,  however,  flour- 
ished at  the  expense  of  the  body  politic,  and  in  1038  Atisha  or 
Jo  Ji-pal-den  again  reformed  the  religion  of  the  country.  In 
1206  the  country  was  conquered  by  the  Tartars,  and  in  1270 
Kublai  khan  recognized  the  supremacy  of  the  head  Lama  of  the 
Sakya  monastery  as  titular  ruler  of  Tibet,  an  arrangement  which 
lasted  until  the  foundation  of  the  Yellow  or  Gelukpa  sect  by 
Tsong-kapa  in  the  fifteenth  century  and  the  final  establishment 
of  the  re-incarnate  hierarchy  of  Lhasa  two  hundred  years  later. 
But  before  that  momentous  coup  d'etat, the  first  European  traveler 
had  entered  Tibet,  and  it  is  the  aim  of  this  chapter  rather  to  give 
a  brief  account  of  the  attempts  of  foreign  nations  to  enter  into 
communication  with  this  hermit  country,  than  to  dwell  at  any 
length  upon  its  internal  history. 

Friar  Odoric  or  Ordericus  of  Pordenone,  a  Minorite  friar,  ap- 
pears to  have  visited  Tibet  about  the  year  1328.    He  was  return- 


6  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

ing  from  the  east  coast  of  China,  by  Shensi,  hoping  eventually  to 
strike  the  main  European  caravan  routes  through  Asia.  It  seems 
clear  that  he  never  reached  Lhasa.  Astley  dismisses  him  as  "  the 
prince  of  liars,"  but  some  of  his  notes  are  good  and  interesting. 
He  reports  of  the  capital  of  Tibet  that  its  walls  are  black  and 
white ;  that  its  streets  are  well  paved ;  that  the  Buddhist  prohibi- 
tion against  the  taking  of  life  was  strictly  observed  there ;  and  that 
the  Tibetans  of  the  country  districts  lived,  as  now,  in  black  yak- 
hair  tents.  The  title  of  the  Grand  Lama  of  Sakya  he  gives  as 
Abassi,  in  which  a  reflection  of  the  Latin  title  of  the  chief  of  a 
monastery  may  probably  be  seen. 

But  from  that  time  there  is  a  blank  of  many  years,  at  the  end 
of  which  the  present  regime  was  established  by  Tsong-kapa,*  a 
monk  from  the  then  populous  region  of  Koko-nor,  far  to  the 
northeast  of  Lhasa.  His  reformations  were  sweeping  in  their 
scope,  and  though  at  this  day  the  various  sects  of  Lamaism  are 
divided  rather  by  tradition,  ritual,  and  costume  than  by  any  vital 
dogmatic  schism,  the  stricter  moral  code  of  the  Cjclukpas  or  Yel- 
low Caps,  Tsong-kapa's  sect,  is  still  to  be  recognized.  Before  the 
next  European  visited  Lhasa,  the  Gelukpas  had  consolidated  their 
rule,  and  in  1624  Antonio  Andrada,  of  the  Society  of  Jesus, 
found  the  chief  power  in  their  hands  at  Tashi-lhunpo.  This  mis- 
sionary was  the  author  of  the  most  widely  known  description  of 
Tibet  until  the  travels  of  Turner  were  issued  at  the  close  of  the 
eighteenth  century.  But  it  is  certain  that  his  acquaintance  with 
the  country  was  limited  to  the  western  and  northern  parts — 
Lhasa  still  remained  unvisited. 

The  doctrine  of  political  re-incarnation  had  now  been  fully  ac- 
cepted. The  first  re-incarnation  of  Amitabha  or  Manjusri  ^— the 
Indian  synonyms  are  conveniently  used  for  the  chief  personages 
of  the  Greater  Vehicle  of  Buddhism— was  Gedun-tubpa,  Grand 
Lama  of  Tashi-lhunpo,  in  whom  Tsong-kapa  recognized  the  per- 

*  "He  of  the  Orion  Land."  '  The  Tibetan  name  is  Chenrezig. 


FORMER  EXPLORATIONS  OF  TIBET  7 

sonality  of  Padma  Sambhava.  Gedun-tubpa  thus  founded  a  series 
of  re-incarnations  near  Shigatse,  of  which  the  successive  holders 
made  such  good  use  that  toward  the  middle  of  the  seventeenth 
century  Na-wang  Lob-sang  made  himself  master  of  Tibet.  But 
he  then  transferred  his  capital  to  Lhasa,  accepted  the  title  of  Dalai 
Lama  from  the  Emperor  of  China/  built  the  Potala  palace,  and, 
most  important  of  all,  discovered  that,  besides  being,  as  Grand 
Lama  of  Tashi-lhunpo,  a  re-incarnation  of  Amitabha,  he  was  also 
a  reappearance  of  Avalokiteswara.  This  produced  a  curious  re- 
sult, for  Avalokiteswara  was  an  emanation  of  Amitabha  and, 
therefore,  inferior  to  his  "  father  "  as  touching  his  potential  man- 
hood. Thus,  though  the  entire  political  power  has  been  absorbed 
by  the  Dalai  or  Grand  Lama  of  Lhasa,  the  Tashi  Lama— as  the 
Grand  Lama  of  Tashi-lhunpo  is  commonly  called— remains  in 
theory  his  senior  and  superior  in  spiritual  matters.  A  govern- 
ment, similar  in  most  respects  to  that  which  is  now  established, 
was  afterward  inaugurated,  the  forcible  introduction  by  the  Chi- 
nese Emperor  of  two  Ambans  or  Viceroys  with  a  strong  guard 
being  the  result  of  the  Dzungarian  raid  and  the  occupation  of 
Lhasa  in  171 7.  Chinese  suzerainty  may  be  said  to  date  from 
1720. 

In  1662,  in  the  middle  of  Na-wang  Lob-sang's  revolution,  the 
first  European,  Father  Johann  Grueber,  also  a  Jesuit,  reached 
Lhasa  in  company  with  Father  Dorville.  He  left  few  records  of 
his  travels,  but  Astley's  "  Collection  of  Voyages  "  contains  an 
abstract  of  his  account  of  this  journey.  Lhasa— or,  as  he  calls  it, 
Barantola— is  described  as  the  capital  of  the  country  and  the  resi- 
dence of  the  Buddhist  Pope,  whose  castle  "  Butala  "  reminded 
Grueber  of  the  Rhenish  fortresses  of  his  own  fatherland.  He  re- 
marks that  the  religion  was  essentially  identical  with  Christianity, 

^  The  title  means  Ocean  (of  learning).  It  has  originated  the  perpetual  "sur- 
name" of  Gya-tso  (expanse  of  water)  for  the  successive  re-incarnations  of  the 
Dalai  Lama.      ^  ^  l^:^ 


8  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

though,  as  he  says,  no  Christian  was  ever  in  the  country  before. 
Among  other  remarks  which  are  true  of  Tibetans  to-day,  he  men- 
tions the  feminine  habits  of  wearing  the  hair  plaited  tightly  into 
a  number  of  small  cords,  of  bearing  the  "  patug  "  or  turquoise- 
studded  head-dress,  and  of  smearing  the  face  with  kutch.*  In 
1708  the  Capuchin  mission  in  India  was  pushed  forward  and  four 
fathers  were  sent  to  make  a  settlement  in  Lhasa.  Elsewhere  I 
have  sketched  the  career  of  this  ill-fated  hospice.  For  the  moment 
it  is  only  necessary  to  say  that  it  was  persecuted  by  the  Jesuits  and 
eventually  abandoned  in  1745.  Brother  Orazio  della  Penna  of  this 
mission  acquired  a  perfect  knowledge  of  the  Tibetan  language. 
He  wrote  an  account  of  the  country,  which  is  a  somewhat  bald 
aggregation  of  facts  and  fancies.  To  him  is  probably  due  our 
knowledge  of  the  mineral  wealth  of  the  country,  and  a  certain 
light  upon  its  internal  dissensions  during  the  first  quarter  of  the 
eighteenth  century.  His  summary  of  the  chief  features  of  La- 
maism  is  colored  by  the  scholasticism  of  his  own  religion. 

Hippolito  Desideri  and  Manuel  Freyre,  Jesuit  spies,  reached 
Lhasa  in  1716,  and  stayed  there  thirteen  years,  until  they  were 
recalled  by  the  Pope.  The  manuscripts  of  the  former  are  still 
unpublished,  but,  contrary  to  general  belief,  they  have  been  thor- 
oughly examined,  and  full  extracts  have  from  time  to  time  been 
made  from  them  for  private  use.  About  this  time  the  famous 
survey  of  China  was  made  under  the  auspices  of  the  Jesuit  colony 
in  Peking. 

One  Samuel  Van  der  Putte  was  the  next  visitor.     He  was  a 

shrewd,  adventurous  Dutchman,  and  twice  succeeded  in  making 

his  way  to  Lhasa.  But  the  anti-foreign  prejudices  of  the  Tibetans 

*  Grueber  drew  a  picture  of  the  Potala  palace  in  his  day,  which  is  of  con- 
siderable interest.  In  its  earlier  state  it  must  have  resembled  Gyangtse-jong 
in  the  disposition,  character,  and  stability  of  its  buildings,  and  it  is  also  clear 
that  the  gigantic  buttress-building  which  sweeps  sheer  up  the  side  of  the 
rock  from  the  plain  to  the  Dalai  Lama's  own  palace  covers  two  deep  ravines 
which  are  probably  converted  into  secret  treasure  chambers  at  this  moment. 
See  Appendix  B. 


FORMER  EXPLORATIONS  OF  TIBET  9 

were  fermenting.  Van  der  Putte  was  obliged  to  travel  between 
China  and  India  in  disguise,  and  during  the  whole  of  his  stay 
in  Tibet  and  China — a  period  of  about  twelve  years,  1724- 173  5  — 
was  unable  to  compile  any  connected  narrative  owing  to  the  dan- 
ger which  surrounded  him.  He  made  his  notes  upon  slips  of 
paper,  and  ultimately,  in  fear  lest  improper  or  inaccurate  use 
should  be  made  of  them,  ordered  them  in  his  will  to  be  burned. 
He  appears  also  to  have  kept  a  small  journal  which  was,  it 
seems,  destroyed  at  the  same  time.  It  is  difficult  to  find  a  parallel 
to  the  loss  which  scientific  exploration  has  suffered  by  the  holo- 
caust of  the  entire  notes  of  a  man  who  was  equally  distinguished 
as  a  traveler,  a  linguist,  and  a  scientific  expert. 

About  this  time  the  names  of  three  Englishmen  are  conspicuous 
among  those  who  have  explored  Tibet.  It  is,  indeed,  almost  en- 
tirely upon  their  notes  that  our  information  as  to  the  interior  of 
Tibet  rested  until  the  organization  of  the  traveling  Pundits  by 
the  Indian  Survey  Office  comparatively  late  in  the  nineteenth  cen- 
tury. Between  the  years  1774  and  1812  Mr.  George  Bogle,  a 
young  writer  of  the  East  India  Company,  Lieutenant  Samuel 
Turner,  and  Mr.  Thomas  Manning— an  eccentric  mathematician 
and  Oriental  scholar— all  penetrated  with  more  or  less  success 
into  this  country  of  mystery.  The  three  men  represented  different 
types:  Bogle,  as  his  diary  shows,  was,  though  a  comparatively 
young  man,  a  peculiarly  suitable  envoy  for  the  delicate  work 
which  Warren  Hastings  intrusted  to  him.  The  Governor  himself 
showed  in  his  dealings  with  Tibet  the  same  grasp  and  foresight 
that  characterized  his  actions  in  every  part  of  his  huge  De- 
pendency; he  realized  the  importance  of  securing  friendly  rela- 
tions with  a  country  which  seemed  at  that  time  to  be  the  most  obvi- 
ous link  between  Bengal  and  the  rest  of  Asia.  He  therefore  sent 
George  Bogle,  as  the  accredited  agent  of  the  Company,  to  establish 
communication,  and,  if  possible,  improve  the  commercial  inter- 
course between  the  two  countries.     A  thin  current  of  merchan- 


lo  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

disc  filtered  down  over  the  passes  into  India,  its  owners  exchang- 
ing the  musk,  wool,  and  turquoises  of  Tibet  for  the  rice  and 
hardware  of  India,  but  it  is  not  likely  that  Warren  Hastings  had 
any  very  definite  intention  to  open  up  a  thoroughfare  to  India 
from  the  north  and  east.  Many  years  were  needed  to  consolidate 
the  British  rule  in  Bengal,  and  he  had  difficulties  enough  in  India 
proper  to  contend  with  without  in  any  way  inviting  the  inter- 
ference of  outside  tribes  or  nations.  It  is  probable  that  his  chief 
aim  was  to  secure  information.  Nothing  whatever  was  known 
of  this  particular  route  between  India  and  Tibet ;  the  very  names 
of  the  towns,  the  nature  of  the  country,  the  disposition  of  its 
inhabitants,  its  products,  its  government,  all  were  alike  unknown, 
and  George  Bogle  was  set  a  task  by  Hastings  which  might  well 
have  daunted  a  diplomatist  more  experienced  than  the  young  and 
unknown  writer  twenty-seven  years  of  age.  But  from  first  to 
last  he  carried  through  his  mission  with  unfailing  tact,  and,  so 
far  as  it  was  possible,  with  complete  success.  His  object  was  not 
Lhasa.  The  Dalai  Lama  was  then  a  boy  of  fifteen,  and  the  vir- 
tual government  of  the  country  lay  in  the  hands  of  the  Tashi 
Lama;  this  man,  whose  name  was  Jetsun  Poldan  Ye  She,  has 
remained  the  most  distinguished  figure  in  all  the  list  of  re-incar- 
nate Grand  Lamas.  He  was  a  man  of  commanding  personality, 
of  wide-minded  sympathy  and  toleration,  and  remarkable,  even 
beyond  the  confines  of  his  country,  for  his  courtesy  and  wisdom. 
To  him,  therefore,  Bogle  was  sent,  and  making  his  way  through 
Bhutan,  he  arrived  at  Tashi-lhunpo  without  serious  delay  in 
December,  1774.  His  diary  and  the  ofi^cial  report  which  he  sent 
to  Warren  Hastings,  by  that  time  appointed  first  Governor-Gen- 
eral of  India,  contain  by  far  the  most  judicious  description  of 
the  life  and  customs  of  the  inhabitants  of  this  unknown  country 
that  has  been  written.  He  was  received  as  an  honored  guest, 
and,  though,  indeed,  he  was  asked  not  to  press  his  request  for 
permission  to  visit  Lhasa,  the  favor  of  the  Tashi  Lama  was 


FORMER  EXPLORATIONS  OF  TIBET  ii 

suflficient  to  secure  for  him  unique  opportunities  of  examining 
the  nature,  habits,  and  peculiarities  of  this  unknown  neighbor 
across  the  Himalayas.  All  that  could  be  done  to  promote 
friendly  relations  between  the  two  countries  was  cheerfully  at- 
tempted by  the  Tashi  Lama,  but  it  is  clear  from  Bogle's  own 
account  that  he  met  with  considerable  opposition  from  the  rep- 
resentatives of  Lhasa,  even  in  the  court  of  the  actual  ruler  of 
Tibet,  and  the  death  of  the  Tashi  Lama  shortly  afterward,  com- 
bined with  the  accession  to  supreme  power  of  the  Dalai  Lama 
in  1776,  effectually  put  an  end  to  any  hope  of  an  amicable  under- 
standing between  the  two  countries.  Bogle's  narrative  will  be 
quoted  in  the  following  pages,  and  it  would  be  difficult  to  im- 
prove on  the  shrewd  insight  and  steady  judgment  with  which 
many  of  the  peculiarities  of  Tibet  were  unerringly  noted  down, 
generally  with  some  characteristic  comment,  shrewd  or  satirical. 
After  the  death  of  the  Tashi  Lama  in  1780,  followed  within 
six  months  by  the  decease  of  Bogle  himself  at  Calcutta,  and  the 
consequent  failure  of  his  intended  scheme,  Warren  Hastings 
determined  to  make  another  attempt.  Samuel  Turner,  his  own 
cousin,  was  despatched  at  the  head  of  a  small  party  to  Tashi- 
Ihunpo.  After  some  delay  •  in  Bhutan  he  successfully  accom- 
plished the  journey,  traveling  over  the  same  route  as  that  which 
had  been  taken  by  Bogle,  and  reached  Tashi-lhunpo  on  the  226. 
of  September,  1783.  Turner,  however,  found  that  the  center 
of  Government  had  been  transferred  to  Lhasa;  the  new  Tashi 
Lama  was  an  infant,  and  the  Dalai  Lama  showed  no  disposition 
whatever  to  allow  his  visitor  even  to  discuss  the  object  of  his 
mission.  After  formally  congratulating  the  Tashi-lhunpo  hie- 
rarchy upon  the  speedy  and  successful  re-incarnation  of  the  de- 
ceased primate,  he  took  his  leave.  On  his  return  to  England, 
Turner  embodied  the  result  of  his  observations  in  a  sumptu- 
ously printed  volume,  illustrated  with  steel  engravings,  which 
for  a  long  time  remained  the  only  English  printed  record  of 


12  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

Great  Tibet,  and  we  owe  a  deep  debt  of  gratitude  to  Sir  Clem- 
ents Markham  for  having  given  to  the  world,  in  1875,  the  some- 
what more  interesting  and  reliable  account  written  by  Turner's 
predecessor  at  the  Tashi  court. 

The  third,  and  last,  name  of  these  three,  Mr.  Manning,  pre- 
sents one  of  the  most  curious  psychological  studies  in  the  whole 
history  of  travel.  That  he  was  a  man  eccentric  in  his  habits 
and  tastes  throughout  his  life  may  be  fairly  argued  from  his 
behavior  during  his  last  years,  but  it  is  difficult  to  reconcile 
the  extraordinary  energy,  courage,  and  fixity  of  purpose  which 
enabled  him  successfully  to  carry  through,  at  the  utmost  per- 
sonal risk,  the  most  dangerous  expedition  that  any  man  in  his 
day  could  attempt,  with  the  utter  vacuity  of  the  only  record 
which  he  has  left  of  his  great  and  successful  enterprise.  It  is 
not  too  much  to  say  that  on  no  single  point  did  the  recent  ex- 
pedition glean  a  fact  or  an  opinion  of  the  slightest  use  from  the 
record  left  by  a  man  who,  presumably  for  the  purpose  of  ob- 
servation, had  traveled  over  a  route  to  Lhasa  which  for  the 
most  part  was  identical  with  that  of  1904.  .From  the  first  day 
recorded  in  his  journal,  the  7th  of  September,  181 1,  to  his  re- 
turn to  Indian  territory,  in  June  of  the  following  year,  such 
notes  as  these  constitute  the  main  bulk  of  his  observations: 

"  I  came  in  thoroughly  wet  and  dried  my  clothes  on  my  body. 
Afterward,  upon  walking  across  the  room,  I  was  seized  with  a 
violent  palpitation.     The  insects  disturbed  me  all  night. 

"  I  saw  a  lad  gnawing  a  turnip,  and  called  to  him  immediately, 
and,  showing  it  to  my  conductor,  asked  the  name  and  told  him 
to  give  me  plenty  of  it.  I  thus  got  an  excellent  well-dressed 
stew  with  turnips." 

His  account  of  his  own  behavior  during  the  crossing  of  the 
Tsang-po  is  one  which  most  Englishmen  would  have  blushed 
to  recall,  far  more  to  incorporate  in  their  record  of  travel. 

"  The  reminiscences  occasioned  by  the  motion  of  the  boat 


FORMER  EXPLORATIONS  OF  TIBET  13 

brought  on  a  fit  of  European  activity.  I  could  not  sit  still, 
but  must  climb  about,  seat  myself  in  various  postures  on  the 
parapet,  and  lean  over.  The  master  of  the  boat  was  alarmed, 
and  sent  a  steady  man  to  hold  me  tight.  I  pointed  to  the  or- 
namented prow  of  the  boat,  and  assured  them  that  I  could  sit 
there  with  perfect  safety,  and  to  prove  to  them  how  commo- 
diously  I  was  seated,  bent  my  head  and  body  down  the  outside 
of  the  boat  to  the  water's  edge;  but  finding,  by  their  renewed 
instances  for  me  to  desist,  that  I  made  them  uneasy,  I  went 
back  to  my  place  and  seated  myself  quietly.  As  the  boat  drew 
near  shore  I  meditated  jumping  over,  but  was  pulled  back  by 
the  immense  weight  of  my  clothes  and  the  clumsiness  of  my 
boots.  I  was  afraid  of  jumping  short,  and  having  the  laugh 
against  me." 

The  manner  in  which  he  permitted  his  Chinese  servant  to 
treat  him  is  a  revelation  to  those  who  know  the  East.  His 
only  protest  against  the  discourtesy,  insubordination,  disobe- 
dience, and,  at  last,  openly  expressed  contempt  of  his  Chinese 
servant,  was  to  fill  the  pages  of  his  diary  day  after  day,  and 
week  after  week,  with  whining  complaints  of  the  man's  "  un- 
kindness."  It  will  hardly  be  believed  that,  after  he  had  achieved 
the  end  which  he  had  set  before  him,  and  at  last  actually  found 
himself  inside  the  Sacred  City,  he  still  occupies  himself  with 
petty  personal  grievances,  with  long  notes  upon  the  treatment 
which  he  applied  to  his  patients  there,  with  the  effect  of  his 
medicines,  and  with  lengthy  moral  disquisitions  upon  the  under- 
lying influences  which  affect  all  human  nature  alike.  Until 
almost  the  end  of  his  visit,  with  the  doors  of  the  Jo-kang  open 
to  him,  he  does  not  seem  to  have  visited  a  single  temple,  and 
when  at  last  he  did  so  he  occupied  a  page  of  his  diary  by  a 
petty  narration  of  his  servant's  incivility  and  his  own  silly  con- 
duct; of  the  temples  visited,  he  left  no  description  whatever, 
and  the  only  clear  thing  is  that  the  Jo-kang  was  not  one  of  them. 


14  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

Manning  returned  to  England  after  this  great  expedition  and 
lived  a  life  of  seclusion,  and,  it  must  be  confessed,  of  eccentricity. 
Sir  Clements  Markham  has  published  the  diary  to  which  refer- 
ence has  been  made,  and  it  certainly  possesses  a  very  remarkable 
interest,  if  not  as  a  record  of  observation,  at  least  as  a  psycho- 
logical document  which  has  probably  no  parallel  in  the  world. 

With  one  exception,  the  record  of  Tibetan  travel  from  that 
day  to  the  present  year  is,  so  far  as  Europeans  are  concerned, 
a  record  of  interesting  and  picturesque  failure.  That  exception 
was  the  visit  of  two  Jesuit  Fathers,  Evariste  Hue  and  Joseph 
Gabet.  Traveling  by  the  southwestern  route  from  China, 
through  Sining,  these  two  adventurous  priests  reached  Lhasa 
in  January,  1846.  After  a  stay  of  less  than  seven  weeks  they 
were  expelled  by  the  Amban,  and  returned  to  China  by  the  east- 
ern route  through  Tachienlu.  The  book  which  Hue  wrote  upon 
his  travels  in  Eastern  Asia  is  graphic  and  vivacious,  and  the 
picture  which  he  draws  of  his  own  experiences  in  Lhasa  is 
graphic  and  true;  but  of  the  natural  and  architectural  features 
he  says  almost  nothing,  and  there  was  wanting  in  him  a  realiza- 
tion of  the  intense  importance,  as  well  as  interest,  of  his  travels. 
It  is  true  that  many  of  his  statements,  which  at  the  time  were 
received  with  undisguised  incredulity,  have  since  received  cor- 
roboration from  later  travelers,  but  Hue  cannot  be  said  to  have 
added  very  much  to  our  scientific  knowledge  of  the  countries 
through  which  he  passed,  and,  though  his  narrative  possesses 
a  racy  charm  of  its  own  which  will  always  make  it  a  popular 
classic  in  the  history  of  missionary  effort,  it  is  greatly  to  be 
regretted  that  he  did  not  use  his  unique  opportunities  in  a 
steadier  and  better  informed  record  of  the  national  and  physical 
peculiarities  of  this  almost  virgin  country. 

As  has  been  said,  the  record  of  all  other  travel  to  Lhasa  has 
been  a  record  of  failure.*     In  the  whole  history  of  exploration, 

^  Hue  gives  a  curious  account  of  the  supposed  visit  of  an  Englishman,  Moor- 
croft,  to  Lhasa.    Briefly  stated,  his  assertion  is  that,  though  WilHam  Moor- 


FORMER  EXPLORATIONS  OF  TIBET  15 

there  is  no  more  curious  map  than  that  which  shows  the  tangled 
lines  of  travelers'  routes  toward  this -city,  coming  in  from  all 
sides,  north,  south,  east,  and  west,  crossing,  interlocking,  retrac- 
ing, all  with  one  goal,  and  all  baffled,  some  soon  after  the  journey- 
had  been  begun,  some  when  the  travelers  might  almost  believe 
that  the  next  hill  would  give  them  a  distant  glimpse  of  the  golden 
roofs  of  the  Fotala.  It  has  often  been  remarked  to  the  writer 
that  this  consistent  failure  to  reach  a  known  spot,  barely  200 
miles  from  our  own  frontier,  across  a  thinly  inhabited  region, 
has  never  yet  been  accounted  for.  As  a  matter  of  fact,  the 
reason  is,  I  think,  clear  enough  when  that  region  has  been 
visited.  Roughly  stated,  there  is  in  Tibet  only  one  way  of 
going  from  one  place  to  another,  whether  the  necessity  lies  in 
the  nature  of  the  ground  or  in  the  inability  to  obtain  food, 
fuel,  and  fodder  elsewhere,  and  that  in  itself  effectually  re- 
duces the  chance  of  traveling  without  attracting  observation. 
Thanks  to  the  extraordinary  system  of  Chinese  postal  relays, 
it  is  absolutely  impossible  for  a  traveler  to  prevent  the  news  of 
his  arrival  reaching  Lhasa.  The  population  of  Tibet  is,  it  is 
true,  small,  and  it  might  be  thought  that  therefore  a  traveler 
enjoyed  greater  opportunities  of  escaping  detection.  It  is  a  fact 
that  one  may  go,  not  for  hours  only,  but  for  days,  along  a  well- 
known  trade  route  without  meeting  a  soul  more  than  half  a 
mile  from  the  nearest  village.  But  this  very  scantiness  of  popu- 
lation is  the  undoing  of  the  trespasser;  every  face  is  as  well 
known  to  the  Tibetan  villager  as  the  face  of  the  local  Chinese 
official,  to  whom,  under  horrible  penalties,  the  presence  of  a 
stranger,  in  whatever  guise,  must  be  at  once  reported.     The 

croft  is  supposed  to  have  died  in  1825  at  "  Andkou,"  he  really  reached  Lhasa 
in  1826,  and  Hved  there  for  twelve  years  undetected.  Even  his  own  servant 
believed  him  to  be  a  Kashmiri.  He  was  assassinated  by  brigands  on  his  return 
journey,  and  the  discovery  of  elaborate  maps  upon  his  person  after  death  was 
the  first  indication  to  the  Lhasans  of  his  nationality.  It  must  be  remembered 
that  Hue  had  this  story  direct  from  the  Regent  in  Lhasa  only  eight  years  after- 
ward. The  authority  for  the  fact  of  his  death  in  1825  is  a  letter  written  by 
Trebeck,  his  companion.    Trebeck  himself  died  a  few  days  later. 


i6  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

merchants  who  pass  up  and  down  upon  the  road  are  the  only- 
new  faces  that  the  Tibetan  sees  from  year  to  year.  High  Lama 
officials  may  hurry  through,  and  now  and  then  the  Chinese 
garrison  of  the  nearest  post  may  be  relieved,  but  in  both  these 
cases  there  is  a  robe  or  uniform  readily  distinguishable  by  the 
villager,  and  he  would  be  a  daring  man  indeed  who  would  at- 
tempt to  thrust  himself  in  disguise  into  the  company  of*  either 
the  actual,  or  the  nominal,  ruling  class  in  Tibet.  Excepting 
these  two  classes,  every  passer-by  along  the  high  road  is  subject 
to  an  unceasing  scrutiny,  which,  it  can  readily  be  understood, 
has  hitherto  effectually  prevented  all  attempts  to  visit  the  For- 
bidden City  by  stealth. 

We  have  not  space  to  include  even  the  briefest  summary  of 
these  plucky  but  doomed  enterprises,  but  each  of  the  tracks  that 
contribute  to  the  tangled  skein  which  envelops  Lhasa  has  its  own 
peculiar  interest.  One  remembers,  one  after  another,  the  light- 
hearted  and  purposeless  raid  of  Bonavalot  and  Prince  Henri 
d'Orleans  in  1890,  the  steady  and  scientifically  invaluable  prog- 
ress of  Bower  and  Thorold  in  1891,  the  triple  attempts  of 
Rockhill — a  determined  American,  whom  every  one  in  the  col- 
umn would  gladly  have  seen  accompanying  us  into  the  city  he 
had  striven  to  reach  for  so  many  years  at  such  a  cost  of  time 
and  labor — and  the  debt  which  geography  owes  to  Henry  and 
Richard  Strachey  must  not  be  forgotten.  All  of  these  enter- 
prises have,  unfortunately,  not  ended  in  failure  alone,  and  the 
murder  of  Dutreuil  de  Rhins,  in  1894,  and  the  disappear- 
ance of  Mr,  Rijnhart,  in  1898,  remain  as  significant  proof 
of  the  very  real  danger  which  has  been  in  the  past,  and,  so 
far  as  one  can  forecast  the  future,  will  still  remain  an  inevitable 
characteristic  of  travel  in  Tibet.  Of  all  these  journeys,  that  of 
the  Littledales,  in  1894,  was  perhaps  the  most  interesting,  and 
those  who  knew  either  Mr,  Littledale,  or  his  nephew,  Mr, 
Fletcher,  will  realize  that  further  progress  was  absolutely  and  ir- 


FORMER  EXPLORATIONS  OF  TIBET  17 

revocably  prevented  when  even  these  two  determined  men  ac- 
quiesced in  the  inevitable  and  gave  up  the  attempt  when  within 
70  miles  of  their  long-desired  goal. 

The  work  of  Russians  in  Tibet  has  been  watched  with  some 
interest  from  India,  and  the  names  of  Przhevalsky,  Roborovsky, 
Kozlov,  and  Pevtsov  honorably  recall  a  series  of  explorations, 
extended  over  many  years,  of  which  the  pursuit  and  ultimate 
object  were  none  the  less  admirable  in  themselves  because  they 
did  not  happen  to  commend  it  to  the  policy  of  the  British  Gov- 
ernment. 

These  men  were,  of  course,  all  Europeans.  Of  the  secret 
surveys  undertaken  by  the  Indian  Government  I  shall  speak 
later. 

Of  Sven  Hedin,  it  is  not  necessary  to  remind  the  reader. 
His  own  gallant  attempt  to  reach  Lhasa,  which  occupied  over 
two  years,  is  sufficiently  recent  to  need  no  further  description 
at  this  moment.  His  own  record — unostentatious,  and  bearing 
the  stamp  of  accurate  observation  in  every  line — is  still  wet 
from  the  press,  and,  though  his  adverse  opinion  as  to  the  justice 
of  our  expedition  had  been  freely  expressed,  the  regret  felt  by 
every  member  of  the  Mission  that  Sven  Hedin  was  not  with  us 
in  Lhasa  was  genuine  and  deep. 


CHAPTER   II 

THE  REASONS   FOR  THE   EXPEDITION 

FOR  many  years  there  were  almost  no  relations  between  the 
English  conquerors  of  India  and  Tibet;  but  so  far  as  any 
might  be  said  to  exist,  they  were,  if  anything,  friendly.  The 
policy  of  isolation  which  the  authorities  of  Lhasa  adopted  had 
been  formulated  first  in  the  early  years  of  the  eighteenth  cen- 
tury, and  we  must  not  suppose  that  even  previous  to  that  date 
the  lamas  would  have  been  willing  to  allow  strangers  to  come 
to  their  capital  in  any  numbers.  But,  as  a  matter  of  fact,  the 
incredible  remoteness  of  Lhasa,  and  the  extreme  difficulty  of  the 
road  thither,  had  always  prevented  any  but  the  hardiest  from 
even  attempting  the  grim  journey.  When,  therefore,  it  became 
obvious  that  European  trade  and  European  traders  were  going 
to  flourish  in  the  Far  East,  it  made  no  great  difference  that  the 
Lhasan  authorities  decided  once  for  all  that  strangers  were  not 
welcome  there.  This  decree,  however,  they  did  not  put  into 
force  with  extreme  rigor  for  a  long  time,  and  it  is  possible  that 
Bogle,  so  late  as  1774,  might  after  all  have  succeeded  in  over- 
coming the  opposition  of  the  Regent. 

Chinese  supremacy  over  Tibet  nominally  dates  from  the  year 
1720,  and  as  about  that  time  the  policy  of  isolation  was  adopted, 
it  is  not  unreasonable  to  suppose  that  the  Chinese  pressed  it 
upon  the  Tibetans  with  the  idea  of  making  a  "  buffer  state  "  of 
the  most  impenetrable  description  between  their  western  prov- 
ince and  the  unknown  but  growing  power  of  the  foreigners  in 

India.    Perhaps  it  was  not  the  white  foreigners  alone  that  they 

18 


THE   REASONS   FOR   THE   EXPEDITION        19 

dreaded;  Nadir  Shah's  invasion  of  India  in  1727  must  have 
been  the  cause  of  some  anxiety  to  the  Middle  Kingdom.  In 
any  case  we  may  fairly  accept  the  definite  statement  of  many 
travelers  that  the  isolation  of  Tibet  was  in  its  origin  a  Chinese 
device.  But  they  taught  willing  pupils,  and  the  tables  are  now 
so  far  reversed  that  the  Chinese  are  unable  to  secure  admittance 
into  the  province  even  for  the  strangers  to  whom  they  have 
given  official  permission.  Mr.  W.  W.  Rockhill,  than  whom  no 
man  has  earned  more  deservedly  a  reputation  for  Tibetan  eru- 
dition, has  of  course  long  wished  to  visit  Lhasa.  The  Ameri- 
can Government,  on  three  occasions,  has  sent  in  a  request  to  the 
Chinese  that  he  should  be  permitted  to  make  the  journey,  and  that 
the  Tibetan  authorities  should  be  compelled  to  receive  him.  The 
first  promise  was  readily  granted;  the  second,  that  which  pre- 
supposed a  real  suzerainty  over  the  Tibetans,  they  were  frankly 
unable  to  make.  They  did  their  best :  three  times,  as  the  suzerain 
power,  they  sent  an  order  to  Lhasa.  Three  times  the  Dalai 
Lama  flatly  and  unconditionally  refused  even  to  consider  Mr. 
Rockhill's  admission.*  The  main  responsibility,  therefore,  for 
the  exclusion  of  foreigners  from  Tibet  rests  now  with  the  La- 
maic  hierarchy.  But  the  great  game  of  exchanging  responsibil- 
ities is  as  well  known  to  those  Oriental  hermits  as  it  was  to  the 
firm  of  Spenlow  and  Jorkins.  At  one  time  the  Chinese  said  that 
they  were  willing  enough  to  allow  strangers  to  travel  freely  in 
Tibet,  but  they  deplored  their  inability  to  coerce  the  Lhasan 
Government ;  the  Lhasan  Government,  on  the  other  hand,  stated 
that  they  would  be  glad  to  see  foreigners  within  their  borders, 
but  unfortunately  the  orders  of  China  were  imperative.  Lat- 
terly, however,  the  Tibetans  abandoned  this  pretense,  and  at 
a  great  meeting  of  the  Tsong-du,  which  was  attended  by  rep- 
resentatives from  all  parts  of  the  country,  they  made  a  national 
vow  that  no  stranger,  under  any  circumstances  whatever,  should 
*This  we  discovered  after  our  arrival  in  Lhasa. 


20  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

henceforth  be  permitted  to  enter  the  country.  This  vow  they 
made  doubly  sure  by  annexing  it  as  an  article  of  faith  to  the 
Buddhist  creed!  One  of  Colonel  Younghusband's  earliest  dip- 
lomatic successes  was  the  silencing  of  this  plea.  He  asked  them 
whether  it  were  indeed  part  of  the  Buddhist  faith  or  not  ?  They 
answered  that  it  was;  he  replied,  that  he  knew  the  Buddhist 
scriptures  well,  and  that  nowhere  from  end  to  end  of  them  was 
there  one  word  which  could  justify  this  assertion.  Retreating 
a  little  from  their  position,  the  Tibetans  then  said,  "  Well,  it  is 
not  perhaps  really  an  article  of  faith,  but  we  have  decided  that 
so  it  must  be."  To  this  Colonel  Younghusband  naturally  an- 
swered that  those  who  could  make  could  also  unmake,  and  that 
if  their  religion  were  not  concerned  there  was  no  reason  that 
they  should  not  at  once  reconsider  what  was  a  mere  matter  of 
policy. 

Had  the  Tibetans  confined  themselves  to  this  assertion  of 
their  inviolability,  pur  relations  with  the  country  would  have 
remained  as  satisfactory  as  could  have  been  wished.  The  loss 
of  trade  was  after  all  a  small  matter,  and,  in  any  case,  it  was 
one  which  the  Tibetans  had  every  right  to  decide.  But  the 
presence  in  Lhasa  of  a  single  man  began  the  trouble  which 
eventually  made  the  expedition  necessary.  The  history  of  Dor- 
jieff  may  as  well  be  told  at  once. 

About  twenty-five  years  ago  there  arrived  in  Lhasa  a  young 
lama  from  the  Siberian  steppes  to  the  east  of  Lake  Baikal.  He 
was  by  birth  a  Mongolian  Buriat,  but  by  nationality  a  Russian 
subject.  He  was  born  at  a  place  called  Azochozki,  and  was 
destined  from  his  youth  to  holy  orders.  He  came  to  Lhasa  and 
was  received  into  that  hot-bed  of  sedition,  the  Debung  monas- 
tery, where,  displaying  unusual  ability,  he  ultimately  became 
professor  of  metaphysics.  In  no  way  did  he  dabble  in  political 
affairs,  and  he  seemed  destined  to  spend  the  autumn  of  his  life 
as  a  teacher.    He  had  reached  the  age  of  fifty-two  when,  more 


THE   REASONS   FOR   THE   EXPEDITION        21 

by  chance  than  by  design,  he  found  himself  involved  in  high 
international  politics,  and  entered  upon  the  adventurous  career 
of  intrigue  which  has  made  his  name  notorious  in  the  chan- 
celleries of  Calcutta,  London,  and  St.  Petersburg.  His  first 
journey  from  Lhasa  to  Russia  was  innocent  enough ;  he  was  sent 
in  1898  to  collect  contributions  from  the  faithful,  of  whom 
there  are  many  communities  in  the  southeastern  provinces  of 
Russia  in  Europe.  He  traveled  in  the  country  from  town  to 
town,  and  at  last  the  Russian  ministers  seemed  to  have  awakened 
to  the  opportunity  which  lay  before  them. 

Throughout  this  book  I  do  not  wish  to  suggest  that  Russia, 
in  attempting  to  gain  influence  in  Lhasa,  was  guilty  of  anything 
which  reflects  the  least  discredit  upon  her  statesmen.  On  the 
other  hand,  it  was  a  far-sighted  and,  from  many  points  of  view, 
an  entirely  laudable  attempt  to  consolidate  the  Central  Asian 
Empire  which  she  believes  to  be  her  rightful  heritage.  The 
only  reason  why  the  British  found  it  necessary  to  intervene  was 
that  the  equally  justifiable  policy  which  they  had  themselves 
deliberately  adopted,  and  their  own  vastly  greater  interests. in 
Tibet,  clashed  all  along  the  line  with  those  of  the  Muscovite. 
Except  that  we  have  no  wish  to  make  ourselves  responsible  for 
the  protection  and  good  government  of  this  huge  and  unwieldy 
province,  the  aims  of  the  government  of  the  Tzar  are  no  doubt 
those  of  ourselves  also.  On  either  side  it  has  been  a  mere  mea- 
sure of  self -protection ;  we  happen  to  have  been  the  better  placed 
to  achieve  our  end.  What  the  Russians  did  in  allowing  Dor- 
jieff  to  represent  them  unofficially  in  Lhasa  we  should  have  been 
glad  to  be  able  to  do,  and  it  is  a  deplorable  thing  that  the  millions 
of  northern  Buddhists  under  our  sway  do  not  produce  men  of 
the  capacity  which  is  exhibited  by  a  Dorjieff  or  a  Norzunoff; 
if  these  men  were  to  be  found  I  fancy  we  should  have  used  them 
willingly  long  ago.  For  these  quick-witted  adventurers  are 
often  the  most  effective  screen  which  can  be  interposed  between 


22  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

two  advancing  nationalities,  so  long,  of  course,  as  they  are  offi- 
cially recognized  by  neither.  But  there  was  no  one  whom  we 
could  oppose  to  the  dexterity  of  this  Buriat  lama. 

He  was  originally  best  known  by  his  Tibetan  name,  Ghomang 
Lobzang,  but  after  his  adoption  of  the  position  in  which  he  has 
become  famous,  he  is  known  to  Western  nations  by  his  Russian 
title  of  Dorjieff— a  name,  by  the  way,  which  is  merely  a  Rus- 
sianized form  of  the  typical  Tibetan  word,  which  means  a  "  thun- 
der-bolt," a  "  diamond,"  or,  more  important  than  all,  the  ulti- 
mate symbol  of  Lamaic  authority,  a  small  brass  ornament, 
shaped  somewhat  like  two  royal  crowns  joined  together  by  an 
inch  of  molded  brass.  Other  names,  too,  he  has;  Kawaguchi, 
the  Japanese  traveler,  refers  to  him  as  Ngaku-wang-dorje;  the 
commonest  name  in  Lhasa  itself  for  this  man  was  that  of  his 
official  position,  or  Khende-chega,  and  his  name  appears  also 
as  Akohwan  Darjilikoff.  This  list  does  not  exhaust  the  number 
of  his  aliases,  but  it  may  indicate  why  the  Government  of  India 
took  some  time  to  realize  that  one  and  the  same  man  lay  behind 
these  different  personalities  which  had,  it  was  clear  enough, 
at  least  one  bond  of  union — that  of  hostility  to  British  influence. 

Precisely  what  took  place  in  Russia  has  not  been  made  public, 
but  in  these  days  of  indiscreet  memoirs  it  is  not  likely  that  the 
true  inner  history  of  Dorjieff's  mission  to  Russia  will  long  re- 
main a  secret.  All  that  is  known  is  that  when  he  returned  to 
Tibet,  Ghomang  Lobzang  found  himself  in  the  unofficial  position 
of  Russian  agent  in  Lhasa.  He  brought  with  him  a  large  num- 
ber of  exceedingly  valuable  presents,  and  he  lost  no  time  in  try- 
ing to  persuade  the  Lhasan  hierarchy  that  it  was  to  their  in- 
terest to  secure  the  informal  protection  of  the  Tzar  of  Russia. 
Briefly  stated,  his  arguments  were  these:  You  have  no  strength 
in  the  country  to  resist  invaders;  your  natural  protector  and 
suzerain,  China,  is  a  broken  reed;  even  at  this  moment  she  is 
entirely  under  the  domination  of  the  British.    If  you  remain  any 


THE   REASONS   FOR   THE   EXPEDITION        2Z 

longer  trusting  to  her  support,  you  will  find  that  she  has  thrown 
you  as  a  sop  to  the  Indian  Government.  The  English  are  a 
rapacious  and  heretical  nation;  they  will  not  respect  your  reli- 
gion; they  will  bring  you  into  servitude,  and  the  ancient  and 
honorable  rule  of  the  priests  in  this  country  will  be  surely  put 
an  end  to.  On  the  other  hand,  if  you  will  ask  the  aid  of  Russia 
you  will  secure  the  most  powerful  protector  in  the  world.  You 
will  have  gained  on  your  side  the  only  military  power  which  is 
able  to  crush  the  English  nation.  More  than  that,  you  may  be 
able  to  induce  the  great  monarch  of  that  nation  to  embrace  your 
faith.  Another  emperor,  as  great  as  he,  has  in  past  ages  been 
converted  to  our  great  faith,  and  if  you  can  convince  Nicholas, 
whose  sympathies  with  Buddhism  are  universally  admitted,  it 
will  not  be  long  before  the  whole  Russian  race  are  obedient 
servants  and  loyal  disciples  of  your  Holiness. 

Such,  in  rough  outline,  was  Dorjieff's  policy.  It  produced 
an  almost  immediate  effect  upon  the  Dalai  Lama  himself.  Im- 
petuously, without  consulting  his  national  council,  he  accepted 
the  suggestion,  and  even  proposed  to  visit  St.  Petersburg  in  per- 
son. The  sacred  cushion  on  which  his  Holiness  should  sit  in 
audience  with  the  Tzar,  and  a  beautiful  codex  aureus  from  his 
own  library,  were  sent  at  once,  and  will  probably  remain  in  the 
Imperial  museum  on  the  banks  of  the  Neva  as  a  curious  and 
significant  reminiscence  of  the  great  and  daring  policy  which 
so  nearly  succeeded  in  Russianizing,  at  a  stroke,  the  most  auto- 
cratic and  far-reaching  religious  empire  of  Asia.  But  the  Dalai 
Lama  had  reckoned  too  hastily;  the  Tsong-du  had  still  to  be 
consulted,  and  here  the  Dalai  Lama  received  a  check  which  was 
the  beginning  of  all  the  internal  troubles  which  have  hampered 
the  proper  management  of  Tibetan  diplomacy  ever  since.  The 
Tsong-du  replied  diplomatically  that  it  was  very  nice  of  the 
Russian  Emperor,  but  that  they  required  no  protection,  and  that 
the  Dalai  Lama  had  exceeded  his  authority  in  committing  the 


24  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

country  even  to  a  consideration  of  Dorjieff's  offer.  The  Grand 
Lama  did  all  in  his  power  to  induce  them  to  accept  his  scheme, 
but  without  avail,  and  the  next  year  another  ruse  was  adopted 
by  Dorjieff  to  further  the  interests  of  his  patrons. 

He  went  again  to  St.  Petersburg,  and  there  was  received  in  au- 
dience by  the  Emperor  himself;  he  returned  after  a  short  stay,  the 
bearer  of  two  interesting  things.*  One  was  a  letter,  asking  that 
the  Dalai  Lama  should  despatch  an  envoy  to  Russia  to  discuss  the 
matter  more  fully.  The  other  was  a  complete  set  of  vestments 
appertaining  to  a  Bishop  of  the  Russian  Church.  Later  on  in  this 
book  their  importance  and  significance  will  be  referred  to ;  for  the 
moment,  the  political  fruits  of  this  embassy  to  St.  Petersburg 
claim  our  attention.  In  spite  of  the  recent  declarations  of  the 
Tsong-du,  the  Dalai  Lama,  on  his  own  responsibility,  sent  in  re- 
sponse Tsan-nyid,  an  abbot  of  high  rank,  to  accompany  Dorjieff, 
who,  a  month  after  his  arrival  at  Lhasa,  was  again  on  the  road 
to  Europe.  The  two  men  made  their  way  through  Nepal  and  In- 
dia to  Colombo,  where  they  embarked  on  a  Russian  vessel  for 
Odessa.  Upon  their  arrival  in  Russia  they  were  received  with 
the  highest  consideration,  and  a  second  audience  with  the  Tzar 
was  granted  them.  Ultimately  they  set  off  on  their  return  jour- 
ney and  reached  Lhasa  about  December,  1901.  They  there  laid 
before  the  Dalai  Lama  a  proposal  from  the  Russian  Government, 
that  a  Prince  of  the  royal  house  should  take  up  his  residence  in 
Lhasa  for  the  purpose  of  promoting  friendly  relations  between  the 
two  countries.  It  may  well  be  imagined,  whether  it  were  so  ex- 
pressed or  not  in  the  message,  that  the  Russians  would  have  con- 
sidered it  necessary  that  a  small  armed  guard  should  accompany 
his  Imperial  Highness.  The  other  document  which  the  returning 
abbot  laid  before  his  master  was  the  hotly  discussed  agreement 
between  Russia  and  Tibet.    Those  who  deny  that  a  treaty  was 

*  It  is  of  some  interest  to  note  that  he  made  the  record  journey  between 
Urga  and  Lhasa ;  he  covered  the  distance  in  ninety  days. 


A  TIBETAN   MONK  WITH   HIS  PRAYER-WHEEL 


THE   REASONS   FOR   THE   EXPEDITION        25 

ever  formally  made  between  Tibet  and  Russia  are  perfectly  cor- 
rect. It  requires  no  great  perspicacity  to  see  that  under  the  rela- 
tions then  existing  between  Tibet  and  China  no  such  treaty  could 
have  been  valid,  even  if  it  had  been  made.  But  it  was  not  made ; 
the  treaty,  the  terms  of  which  were  definite  enough,  remained 
rather  as  a  pledge  than  as  an  assurance ;  it  represented,  in  a  per- 
manent form,  the  kindly  feelings  of  the  Russians  toward  Tibet; 
it  was  there  to  encourage  the  Tibetans  should  any  difficulty  arise 
with  their  southern  neighbors;  it  was  a  comfortable  guarantee 
that  the  Russians  would  encourage  Buddhism  in  their  extending 
empire  of  Central  Asia.  In  return,  the  Russians  asked  for  facili- 
ties which  the  poor  people  of  Lhasa  may  be  pardoned  for  having 
misunderstood.  Concessions  to  construct  railways  must  seem  in- 
significant enough  to  a  country  which  has  not  a  wheel  within  its 
borders  except  a  prayer-wheel ;  but  to  the  eye  of  the  uncharitable 
European  diplomatist  the  very  mention  of  railways  in  connection 
with  Russia  calls  up  a  wide  field  of  reminiscence  and  implication. 
That  treaty  was  an  informal  reduction  to  terms  of  an  unratified 
and  an  unratifiable  arrangement  with  Tibet.  It  was  none  the 
less  dangerous.  The  Chinese  officials  in  Lhasa  were  from  the  first 
aware  of  it,  and  at  once  attributed  to  this  understanding  with 
Russia  the  sudden  insolence  and  insubordination  with  which  Tibet 
continued  to  treat  the  advice  and  even  the  orders  of  their  suzerain. 

So  far  as  the  Dalai  Lahia  was  concerned,  the  treaty  would  have 
been  signed  at  once,  but  the  other  authorities  were  imrhovable. 
On  behalf  of  the  suzerain's  power,  the  Chinese  Viceroy  denounced] 
it  as  treason  to  his  Imperial  master ;  as  to  the  proposed  residencej 
of  a  Russian  Grand  Duke,  the  objections  of  the  high  officials  to 
the  intrusion  of  a  European  among  them,  be  he  prince  or  peasant,/ 
were  loud  and  universal.    The  Tsong-du  refused  to  be  drawn  intc 
the  discussion  again,  or  to  allow  the  Chinese  Emperor's  positior 
as  suzerain  of  Tibet  to  be  ousted  by  the  Tzar,  or  by  any  one  else! 

The  Dalai  Lama,  in  bitter  anger,  then  adopted  other  tactics;  if 


L/" 


26  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

he  could  not  persuade  the  Tsong-du  to  accept  Russian  protection 
by  fair  means,  he  was  not  averse  to  use  others.  From  this  date 
onward  he  was  without  question  riding  for  a  fall  with  the  Eng- 
lish. To  provoke  aggression  with  India  would,  in  his  opinion, 
bring  the  whole  matter  to  a  crisis.  The  Chinese  were  neither 
willing  nor  able  to  interfere  effectually  to  protect  Tibet.  The 
Russians  were,  as  he  believed,  both  able  and  willing,  and  he 
looked  to  compel  the  Tsong-du  to  adopt  his  policy  by  placing  them 
in  a  position  in  which  they  had  no  other  resort  but  to  accept  it. 
Russian  rifles  came  into  the  country  in  camel-loads;  the  arsenal 
at  Lhasa  was  furbished  up  and  a  new  water-wheel  put  in,  and 
Dorjieff,  on  his  side,  stated  that  the  Russians  would  have  a  de- 
tachment of  Cossacks  in  Lhasa  by  the  spring  of  1903.  It  occurs 
to  one  that  there  must  have  been  a  considerable  body  of  opinion  in 
Lhasa  sympathetic  to  Dorjieff's  suggestions,  or  he  would  never 
have  ventured  to  make  so  daring  a  prophecy.  As  it  was,  however, 
he  seems  to  have  taken  pains  that  this  boast  should  reach  Lord 
Curzon's  ears.    It  did,  and  the  fat  was  in  the  fire.  A 

yf^  Such,  then,  was  the  position  of  affairs  into  which  it  became  im- 
perative for  India  to  intervene.  Excuses  for  interference  were 
ready  to  hand.  The  Tibetans  had  encroached  upon  our  territory 
in  Sikkim,  they  had  established  a  customs  post  at  Giao-gong,  fif- 
teen miles  inside  the  frontier,  and  had  forbidden  British  subjects 
to  pass  their  outposts  there ;  they  had  thrown  down  the  boundary 
pillars  which  had  been  set  up  along  the  undisputed  water-shed 
between  the  Tista  and  the  Ammo  chu.  They  had  insulted  the 
treaty  rights  of  the  British  by  building  a  wall  across  the  only 
road  from  Tibet  to  the  market  of  Yatung,  which  had  been  thrown 
open  to  trade  with  India  by  the  stipulations  of  the  Convention 
of  1890-3 ;  more  than  this,  they  returned  unopened  letters  sent  by 
the  Viceroy  to  the  Grand  Lama  in  Lhasa.  These  insults  wouldl 
never  have  given  rise  to  the  despatch  of  an  expedition  if  the  TibeJ 


THE   REASONS   FOR   THE   EXPEDITION        27 

tans  had  not  added  injury  to  them  by  their  dalliance  with  Russia.| 
As  it  was,  there  was  nothing  else  to  do  but  intervene,  and  that 
speedily.  With  characteristic  decision  Lord  Curzon  made  up  his 
mind  to  come  to  an  understanding  with  these  turbulent  children, 
and  in  the  spring  of  1903  he  sent  hastily  to  Major  Bretherton  and 
asked  him  to  present  a  scheme  for  the  immediate  advance  to 
Lhasa  of  1,200  rifles.  But  this  was  found  to  be  impracticable, 
and  the  home  authorities  were  as  yet  far  from  understanding  the 
urgency  of  the  matter. 

It  is  not  unjust  to  say  that  from  first  to  last  the  home  Govern- 
ment had  mistaken  the  real  importance  of  the  issue.  The  utmost 
that  Lord  Curzon  could  persuade  them  to  do  was  to  sanction  the 
despatch  of  Colonel  Younghusband,  with  a  smair  escort,  to  await 
the  Tibetan  representatives  in  the  little  post  of  Kamba-jong,  some 
fifteen  miles  north  of  the  true  Sikkim  frontier.  This  the  Govern- 
ment consented  to  do,  but  they  added  loudly  and  publicly  that 
under  no  circumstances  whatever  would  an  advance  from  Kamba- 
jong  be  permitted.  This  intelligence  was  instantly  communicated 
by  a  gentleman  in  the  pay  of  the  Chinese  to  the  Amban  in  Lhasa, 
and  from  that  moment,  naturally  enough,  the  ultimate  necessity 
of  an  advance  to  Lhasa  itself  was  insured. 

The  stay  at  Kamba-jong  of  the  Mission  was,  therefore,  not  of 
the  greatest  political  importance,  but  a  brief  account  of  it  is  here 
necessary.  At  the  end  of  July  Mr.  Claude  White,  the  Political 
Officer  in  Sikkim,  and  Captain  W.  F.  T.  O'Connor,  the  only  white 
man  who  can  speak  Tibetan  fluently,  moved  up  the  Tista  Valley, 
and  arrived  at  Giao-gong,  where  they  were  met  by  a  small  party 
of  Tibetans  who  attempted  to  oppose  their  progress.  It  was 
pointed  out  to  them  that  Kamba-jong  had  been  chosen  by  the 
Indian  Grovernment  for  negotiations,  and  that  the  Chinese  Gov- 
ernment had  assented  and  undertaken  to  co-operate  with  the 
Tibetans  in  negotiating  at  that  place.  To  Kamba-jong,  there- 
fore, the  members  of  the  Mission  intended  to  proceed.     Hands 


28  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

were  laid  upon  their  bridle-reins,  but  easily  brushed  aside,  and  no 
further  active  opposition  was  offered.  They  moved  on  that  day 
to  the  true  frontier  at  the  Kangra  Lamo  Pass.  On  the  next  day 
they  actually  set  foot  on  Tibetan  territory  and  were  met  by  a 
small  Chinese  official  named  Ho,  who  asked  them  not  to  go  on 
to  Kamba-jong;  they  returned  the  same  answer  to  him  as  to  the 
Tibetans  at  Giao-gong,  whereupon  he  ceased  all  further  opposi- 
tion and  drowned  his  cares  in  opium.  On  the  next  day  Kamba- 
jong  was  reached,  and  a  small  encampment  was  made  at  the  foot 
of  the  hill  on  which  the  fort  is  built.  This  fort  is  an  imposing 
structure,  crowning,  in  the  usual  Tibetan  manner,  the  crest  of  a 
sharp  hill ;  the  plain  over  which  Kamba-jong  dominates  is  a  wide, 
flat  stretch,  separated  only  by  low  hills  from  the  main  Himalayan 
ranges.  This  first  view  of  the  world's  backbone  from  the  north 
is,  from  one  point  of  view,  disappointing,  because  of  the  great 
height,  i5,cxDO  feet  and  more,  from  which  it  is  seen.  But  the 
distant  view  of  Mount  Everest,  here  clearly  distinguishable  from 
the  surrounding  ice-fields,  is  imposing,  though  nearly  a  hundred 
miles  away.  The  plain  of  Kamba  is  a  bare  stretch  of  earth  and 
wormwood,  dotted  with  big  boulders,  and  here  and  there  affording 
a  scanty  pasturage  of  coarse  grass. 

The  camp  was  pitched  in  two  portions  and  earthworks  were 
thrown  up;  small  as  it  was,  it  would  have  been  a  difficult  camp 
to  take  by  storm,  and  here  the  Mission  waited  in  patience.  For 
the  reasons  I  have  just  suggested  their  patience  was  not  re- 
warded; emissaries  did,  indeed,  come  down  from  Lhasa,  but  af- 
ter a  formal  visit  to  Colonel  Younghusband,  who  followed  Mr. 
White  after  an  interval  of  a  few  days,  they  shut  themselves  up  in 
the  jong  and  had  nothing  further  to  do  with  the  Mission.  At 
times  a  Chinese  official,  more  out  of  curiosity  than  anything  else, 
would  come  into  the  camp.  Always  there  were  a  few  Tibetans 
lounging  outside  the  earthworks  in  mild  curiosity,  but  the  days 
went  on  and  nothing  further  was  done  than  the  surveying  and 


THE  REASONS  FOR  THE  EXPEDITION  29 

geological  work  of  the  Mission  experts.  Mr.  Hayden,  of  the 
Geological  Survey,  was  intrusted  with  the  latter  work;  Captain 
Walton,  I.M.S.,  here  began  his  natural  history  notes  and  collec- 
tions. Mr.  White  roamed  about  the  district  as  far  as  the  Tibetans 
permitted  him  to  go.  Life  was  not  unpleasant,^  but  no  business 
was  done,  and  the  advent  of  the  Abbot  of  Tashi-lhunpo  was  a 
welcome  break  in  the  monotony.  This  typical  ecclesiastic  ap- 
peared bringing  a  courteous  message  from  the  Grand  Lama  of 
Tashi-lhunpo.  He  was  an  intelligent  man  of  a  superior  type,  and 
evinced  the  utmost  interest  in  all  the  instruments  and  habits  of 
the  English.  The  gramophone  was  employed  to  impress  him ; 
hereby  a  somewhat  amusing  tale  hangs.  This  gramophone  had 
been  exhibited  before  to  some  Tibetan  officials,  who  had  said  that 
it  was  not  half  as  good  as  the  gramophone  in  Lhasa.  This  state- 
ment somewhat  paralyzed  the  Mission.  They  inquired  the  rea- 
son. "  Oh,"  said  the  official,  "  the  Lhasa  machine  will  not  only 
give  out  sounds,  but  it  will  take  down  and  give  out  again  our 
own  voices !  "  After  this  there  was  no  question  but  that  phono- 
graphs were  among  the  European  luxuries  which  Dorjieff  had 
brought  from  his  new  masters.  Something  had  to  be  done  to  re- 
store British  credit,  so  by  night  a  disk  was  scraped  flat,  and  it  was 
found  that  a  fairly  good  original  record  could  be  made.  On  the 
following  day,  therefore,  a  Tibetan  was  asked  to  speak  or  sing 
into  the  machine ;  this  he  promptly  did,  and  after  a  pause  of  some 
anxiety  the  gramophone  rendered  back  his  voice,  to  his  amuse- 
ment and  delight.  This  record  was  triumphantly  rendered  on  the 
machine  to  the  Abbot  of  Tashi-lhunpo,  but  it  was  not  until  the 
interpreter  explained  the  matter  afterward  that  the  growing 
stoniness  of  the  worthy  cleric's  face  during  the  performance  was 
fully  understood.     Apparently  our  Tibetan,  being  in  a  mischie- 

*0n  one  occasion  Mr.  White  and  Major  Iggulden  rode  up  on  ponies  to  a 
height  of  21 ,000  feet  above  the  sea.  This  must  sound  strange  to  many  Alpine 
mountaineers. 


30  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

vous  mood,  had  recited  into  the  gramophone  a  popular  Tibetan 
song  of  the  most  unfortunate  description. 

One  thing  is  worth  recording:  One  morning  the  Abbot  paid 
a  visit  to  the  camp  and  listened  to  accounts  of  the  latest  discov- 
eries of  Western  science  calmly  and  not  without  interest.  He 
himself  suggested  no  criticisms  until  he  was  directly  asked  by 
Captain  O'Connor  some  point  in  connection  with  the  Tibetan 
knowledge  of  this  planet.  He  answered  courteously,  but  very 
decidedly,  that  what  we  English  believed  as  to  the  nature  of  the 
earth  was  interesting  as  showing  the  strides  which  science  had 
begun  to  make  in  distant  parts;  "but,"  he  said,  "  of  course  you 
are  quite  wrong  in  this  matter ;  the  earth  is  shaped  like  a  shoulder 
of  mutton  bone,  and  so  far  from  being  only  a  small  country,  Tibet 
occupies  nearly  one-half  of  its  extent.  However,  do  not  despair; 
if  you  will  continue  to  read  industriously  and  will  read  better 
books,  there  is  no  doubt  that  you  will  be  learned  in  time."  In  the 
face  of  this  I  regret  to  have  to  record  that  our  scientists  collapsed 
ignominiously,  and  no  one  even  attempted  to  justify  the  illusions 
of  Europe. 

M^  Now  and  then  the  usual  message  was  received :  "  Go  back 
to  Giao-gong  and  there  we  will  discuss  the  matter;  we  will  not 
discuss  the  matter  while  you  are  at  Kamba-jong."  On  one 
occasion  a  small  durbar  was  held,  though  Colonel  Younghus- 
band  entirely  demurred  to  the  social  position  and  the  political 
importance  of  the  men  who  represented  themselves  as  the  Tib- 
etan delegates.  He  explained  the  whole  position  at  full  length; 
he  set  out  the  reasons  which  had  induced  us  to  attempt  to  come 
to  an  amicable  arrangement  with  our  neighbor;  he  recapitu- 
lated the  events  of  the  past  few  years,  reproaching  the  Tibetans 
with  having  broken  the  treaty  of  1890-3,  and,  finally,  concluded 
by  earnestly  asking  that  the  Tibetans  should  co-operate  with 
ourselves  in  bringing  matters  to  a  satisfactory  conclusion.  In 
order  that  there  might  be  no  mistake  his  speech  had  been  care- 


THE   REASONS   FOR   THE    EXPEDITION        31 

fully  written  out  to  be  handed  on  to  the  Dalai  Lama.  At  the  con- 
clusion he  presented  the  envelope  to  the  chief  Tibetan  official,  who 
shrank  from  it  in  horror;  he  utterly  refused  to  touch  it,  and  he 
as  positively  declined  even  to  report  in  Lhasa  the  speech  to 
which  he  had  just  listened ;  no  one,  in  fact,  would  take  the  respon-1 
sibility  of  having  any  official  intercourse  with  us. 

This  was  the  universal  attitude  of  the  Tibetan  representatives 
up  to  the  last.  The  following  story  is  a  curious  illustration  of 
it:  The  Tibetans  once  sent  in  an  oral  protest  chiefly  directed 
against  the  extended  ramblings  of  Mr.  White  and  others  of  the 
Mission.  They  also  protested  against  Hay  den's  chipping  little 
pieces  from  the  mountains ;  they  said,  and  it  was  difficult  to  refute 
it,  that  we  should  not  like  them  to  come  and  chip  pieces  off  the 
houses  in  Calcutta.  Nor  did  they  approve  of  the  heliograph,  by 
which  they  believed  that  we  could  both  see  through  mountains  and 
control  the  rain.  But  the  wanderings  of  the  members  of  the  Mis- 
sion were  what  they  particularly  disliked.  This  was,  perhaps,  not 
unreasonable,  though  a  certain  amount  of  reconnoitering  was  ne- 
cessary in  order  to  collect  firewood,  and  even  country  produce, 
which  the  good  people  of  the  country  were  always  eager  to  sell 
us,  provided  they  could  appease  their  superiors  by  the  pretense 
that  we  had  compelled  them  to  trade  with  us.  Colonel  Young- 
husband,  wishing  in  every  way  in  his  power  to  accustom  the 
Tibetans  to  communicate  with  ourselves,  asked  that  the  request 
should  be  put  into  writing  and  signed.  It  was  a  very  simple 
thing,  and  the  Tibetans  wrote  the  request  without  demur,  but, 
to  the  Colonel's  surprise,  they  point-blank  refused  to  sign  it. 
After  interminable  persuasion  one  of  them  snatched  up  a  pen  and 
made  a  little  mark  in  the  corner  of  the  sheet ;  this,  when  examined, 
proved  to  be  no  signature  at  all.  The  thing  was  so  ridiculous 
that  the  ponies  for  another  excursion  were  saddled  up  and 
brought  to  the  gate  of  the  camp,  and  the  Tibetans  were  told  that 
if  they  could  not  put  their  names  to  this  protest  the  English  could 


32  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

not  believe  that  they  had  authority  to  make  it.  Then,  and  then 
only,  in  despair  did  the  Tibetan  officials  sign  the  paper.  This 
was  a  most  illuminating  little  incident,  and  to  the  very  end  the 
Tibetans  were  faithful  to  the  policy  of  which  it  forms  so  good  an 
illustration. 

So  it  became  evident  that  nothing  could  be  done  at  Kamba-] 
jong,  and  Colonel  Younghusband  suspected,  as  was  indeed  the 
case,  that  the  Tibetans  had  got  wind  of  his  strict  injunctions  not 
to  advance  further  into  the  country.  It  then  became  necessary  to\ 
take  stronger  action,  and  with  the  concurrence  of  the  India  Office 
it  was  arranged  that  he  should  go  to  Gyantse,  and  there  make  a) 
second  attempt  to  carry  through  the  negotiations  with  which  h^ 
had  been  intrusted. 

At  this  point  a  divergence  of  opinion  occurred;  it  was  origi- 
nally suggested  by  Younghusband  that  two  columns  should  con- 
verge upon  the  Kala  tso;  one  with  2,500  yaks  as  transport  should 
occupy  the  Chumbi  Valley,  and  move  on  directly  by  the  side  of 
the  Bam  tso,  under  Colonel  Macdonald,  who  had  been  at  work  for 
some  time  in  Darjeeling  as  C.R.E.,  organizing  the  routes  along 
which  the  Expedition  was  to  travel;  the  other,  consisting  of  the 
Mission,  of  which  the  guard  was  to  be  considerably  reinforced, 
with  500  yaks,  was  to  go  across  country  by  the  Lango  la ;  at  the 
same  time,  400  Nepalese  troops  were  to  occupy  Kamba-jong,  and 
cover  the  advance  of  the  Mission.  To  this  scheme  Macdonald, 
who  now  appeared  for  the  first  time,  demurred;  he  pointed  out 
that  this  advance  in  two  weak  columns  without  means  of  com- 
munication gave  the  Tibetans  the  opportunity  of  dealing  with 
each  separately;  that  the  rendezvous  was  an  unknown  point  in 
the  enemy's  country ;  that  the  roads  to  it  were  also  unknown,  and 
that  it  was,  therefore,  difficult  to  effect  a  meeting  at  a  given  mo- 
ment. He  further  pointed  out  that  the  Mission,  which  would  be 
the  weaker  of  the  two  columns,  would  have  to  march  with  its 
flank  exposed  to  the  enemy  and  without  communications  in  its 


THE   REASONS   FOR   THE   EXPEDITION        ss 

rear.  On  the  i6th  of  October,  Colonel  Younghusband,  who  had 
returned  from  Kamba-jong,  seeing  the  uselessness  of  any  further 
residence,  met  Colonel  (now  Brigadier-General)  Macdonald  at 
Darjeeling.  By  this  time  the  matter  was  further  complicated  by 
the  question  of  yak  transport.  The  Nepalese  made  a  present  of 
500  yaks  to  the  Mission ;  these  were  intended  to  act  as  transport 
for  the  Mission  in  their  cross-country  journey;  the  other  yaks 
were  to  be  bought  in  Nepal  and  taken  across  Sikkim.  Macdonald 
pointed  out  the  dangers  of  attempting  to  take  the  yaks  through 
the  Tista  Valley,  and  his  forebodings  ultimately  proved  to  be  well 
justified.  But  the  500  yaks  which  were  to  cross  into  Tibet  by 
the  Tipta  la  were  turned  back  by  the  Tibetans;  whereupon  the 
Nepalese  asserted  that,  in  spite  of  anything  urged  to  the  contrary, 
the  yaks  could  safely  be  taken  down  to  the  level  of  the  Tista  Val- 
ley, and  the  military  authorities,  accepting  their  statement,  com- 
mitted themselves  to  this  course. 

The  official  estimate  of  the  distribution  of  the  Tibetan  force 
at  this  date  is  interesting ;  they  were  supposed  to  have  500  men  at 
Kamba-jong,  where  a  night  attack  was  imminent,  2000  men  at 
Shigatse,  500  between  Shigatse  and  Kamba-jong,  1000  at  Gy- 
antse,  and  a  few  in  the  Chumbi  Valley.  On  the  8th  of  November 
the  Tibetans  were  reported  to  be  moving  3000  men  toward 
Chumbi,  and  a  week  later  it  was  said  that  nearly  3000  more  sol- 
diers were  advancing  upon  Kamba-jong,  a  somewhat  significant 
action :  foot-and-mouth  disease  was  at  the  same  time  reported  to 
have  made  terrible  ravages  among  the  Nepalese  yaks.^  For  these 
accumulated  reasons  the  advance  in  two  columns  was  abandoned, 
and  it  was  decided  to  advance  in  a  single  strong  column  through 
the  Chumbi  Valley. 

The  question  then  arose,  first,  as  to  the  route  by  which  the 
Chumbi  Valley  should  be  reached,  and,  secondly,  as  to  the  date 
at  which  the  retirement  from  Kamba-jong  should  be  carried  out. 
*  This  was  afterward  discovered  to  be  anthrax. 


34  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

Colonel  Younghusband  was  naturally  anxious,  under  the  cir- 
cumstances, that  no  retreat  should  be  made  from  Kamba-jong 
until  a  footing  had  been  effected  in  Tibetan  territory  in  the 
Chumbi  Valley.  It  was,  therefore,  decided  to  make  the  two 
movements  coincident  in  point  of  time.  As  to  the  route  to  be 
adopted,  Mr.  Claude  White  was  of  opinion  that  the  Jelep  Pass 
in  October  was  preferable.  There  was  this  to  be  said  in  its  favor 
that  it  was  already  well  known  to  us,  and  had  been  used  in  the 
1888  expedition.  It  was  arranged  that  the  original  advance  was 
to  be  made  over  the  Jelep,  but  it  was  also  decided  to  improve  and 
utilize  the  Natu  la  route  through  Gangtok,  and  this  eventually 
became  the  sole  line  of  communication.  By  the  loth  of  December 
there  were  concentrated  at  Gnathong  two  guns  of  No.  7  Mountain 
Battery,  the  machine  gun  of  the  2d  Battalion  Norfolk  regiment, 
two  seven-pounders,  half  a  company  of  the  26.  Sappers,  eight 
companies  of  the  23d  Sikh  Pioneers,  and  six  companies  of  the 
8th  Gurkhas,  with  the  necessary  hospital,  ammunition,  and  postal 
columns.  On  the  nth  a  short  march  was  made  to  Ku-pup,  and 
on  the  1 2th  the  Jelep  was  crossed  in  bitter  weather.  On  the  13th 
the  column  reached  Yatung,  and  after  a  formal  protest  made  its 
way  through  the  gateway  in  the  Tibetan  wall,  where  a  not  un- 
friendly welcome  was  extended  by  the  officials.  On  the  i6th 
Chumbi  was  reached,  and  two  days  later  a  column  of  800  men 
set  out  to  Phari,  which  was  reached  on  the  21st;  the  jong  at  this 
place  was  at  once  occupied  by  our  troops.  This  gave  rise  to  a 
difference  of  opinion  between  the  Commissioner  and  Macdonald. 
The  former  had,  for  diplomatic  reasons,  undertaken  to  the  Tibe- 
tans that  the  fort  should  not  be  occupied  unless  it  were  defended ; 
the  Gieneral,  for  overbalancing  military  considerations,  decided 
that  it  would  be  dangerous  to  leave  it  unoccupied,  and  it  was  con- 
sequently taken. 

The  behavior  of  the  Tibetans  now  became  more  threatening.^ 


i 


THE  REASONS   FOR  THE   EXPEDITION        35 

Representatives  of  the  Three  Monasteries  *  arrived  at  Phari,  and 
forbade  the  people  round  to  supply  us  with  any  of  the  necessaries 
of  life ;  the  Chinese  Colonel  Chao  was  willing  to  do  all  he  could, 
but  he  evidently  had  little  authority,  and  his  successor,  Major  0,^ 
said  that  nothing  could  be  done  in  Lhasa  at  this  moment,  as  th 
Grand  Lama  was  relying  upon  Russian  support  and  would  pay 
no  respect  to  the  Chinese  demands.  Colonel  Younghusband  no- 
ticed about  this  time  the  despondency  even  of  our  own  followers 
at  the  thought  of  invading  Tibet.  They  believed  that  we  were 
doomed  men ;  the  whole  of  the  drivers  of  the  Tibetan  Pony  Corps 
had  bolted  at  Gnathong,  and  the  desertions  of  followers  and  even 
private  servants  were  innumerable.  He  summed  the  position  up 
tersely:  "  We  have  not  one  ounce  of  prestige  on  this  frontier." 
From  political  motives,  he  determined  to  winter  at  Tuna,  a  small 
village  about  nineteen  miles  from  Phari,  across  the  Tang  la.  He 
adopted  this  course  because  of  the  unwillingness  of  the  Tibetans 
to  admit  that  entrance  into  the  Chumbi  Valley  was  really  entrance 
into  Tibet  itself;  and  he  felt  it  necessary  to  occupy  a  position  at 
least  as  far  advanced  into  Tibet  as  Kamba-jong  had  been.  Gen- 
eral Macdonald  found  the  position  inconvenient  from  the  point 
of  view  of  transport,  but  the  political  reasons  were  important 
enough  to  decide  the  question. 

At  Tuna,  therefore,  three  months  of  weary  waiting  ensued 
while  Major  G.  H.  Bretherton,  a  man  of  experience  and  great 
capacity,  was  organizing  supply  and  transport  along  the  lines  of 
communication.  It  was  felt  that  a  very  large  amount  of  stores 
must  be  accumulated  in  the  Chumbi  Valley  before  any  advance 
to  Gyantse  was  possible.  Life  at  Tuna  was  uninteresting  and 
bitterly  cold.    The  Tibetans  had  gathered  in  considerable  strength 

*  The  three  monasteries  of  Sera,  Debung,  and  Gaden,  near  Lhasa,  are  the  ulti- 
mate poHtical  authorities  in  Tibet.  In  very  important  matters  they  are  able  to 
orerrule  even  the  Grand  Lama. 


36  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

at  Guru,  a  place  about  nine  miles  away  on  the  road  to  Gyantse. 
Here  for  the  first  time  the  Commissioner  was  able  to  deliver  his 
message  to  thoroughly  representative  men.  But  its  reception  was 
unsatisfactory.  After  a  fruitless  attempt  to  make  the  delegates 
pay  him  an  official  visit,  Colonel  Younghusband  determined  to 
ride  over  in  person  to  their  camp  informally ;  it  was  a  character- 
istically audacious  action,  and  if  it  had  failed — if,  that  is  to  say. 
Colonel  Younghusband  and  the  two  or  three  officers  with  him 
had  been  killed  or  kidnapped,  as  was  not  unlikely — the  respon- 
sibility for  the  outbreak  of  war  which  would  have  inevitably  fol- 
lowed must  have  rested  upon  the  Commissioner.  But  Young- 
husband is  a  shrewd  judge  of  Orientals,  and,  besides,  he  is  not  one 
of  those  men  with  whom  an  Oriental  takes  a  liberty ;  and,  though, 
as  will  be  seen,  the  visit  was  not  entirely  successful,  it  seemed  at 
the  time  to  be  almost  the  last  chance  of  coming  to  terms  with  our 
opponents  upon  a  perfectly  friendly  basis.  The  Tibetan  general 
was  the  senior  Depen  of  Lhasa,  one  of  the  Lheding  family,  and 
he  received  Colonel  Younghusband  with  great  politeness.  But 
upon  the  Commissioner's  introduction  to  the  room  in  which  the 
representatives  of  the  three  monasteries  were  seated,  the  atmo- 
sphere became  electric  at  once.  They  neither  rose  nor  returned 
his  salutation,  but  after  an  informal  discussion  had  been  initiated 
they  took  command  of  the  conversation,  maintaining  throughout  f 
an  unfriendly  attitude,  and  insisting  that  no  European  could  be 
allowed  in  Tibet  on  any  account,  and  that  if  any  settlement  was 
to  be  carried  through  we  must  return  to  Ya-tung.^  As  Young- 
husband was  taking  his  leave  and  expressing  a  hope  that  the 
Tibetans  would  visit  him  at  Tuna  their  tempers  changed ;  in 
a  threatening  way  they  clamored  for  the  instant  retirement' 
of  the  British;  they  demanded  insolently  to  know  the  exact 

*  This  place  was  sometimes  confounded  by  the  Tibetans  themselves  with 
Gna-thong.  It  is  spelled  "Sna-mdong,"  and  the  "s"  and  the  "m"  are  of 
course  not  sounded.  I  do  not  know  how  the  English  pronunciation  was 
originated. 


THE   REASONS   FOR   THE   EXPEDITION        37 

date  on  which  the  British  would  evacuate  Tibetan  territory, 
trumpets  were  blown  outside,  and  the  attendants  closed 
round  the  small  party.  Younghusband  betrayed  not  the  slight- 
est uneasiness,  and  O'Connor  helped  to  save  the  situation 
by  the  almost  superhuman  suavity  which  he  can  assume  when 
he  wishes.  A  messenger  accompanied  Colonel  Younghus- 
band back  to  Tuna  to  receive  his  answer,  which  was,  of  course, 
to  the  effect  that  he  was  obliged  to  carry  out  the  orders  of  his 
Government. 

The  Lheding  Depen  subsequently  called  at  Tuna;  he  was  a 
pleasant  man,  but,  in  the  words  of  the  Commissioner,  he  was  not 
clever;  he  had  little  strength  of  character,  and  he  was  entirely 
in  the  hands  of  his  three  monk  colleagues.  Nothing,  therefore, 
had  been  done,  and  Colonel  Younghusband  was  obliged  to  wait 
in  the  cold  everlasting  wind  of  the  Tuna  plateau  for  the  first  ad- 
vance of  the  troops.  Meanwhile  the  Tibetans  gathered  strength 
in  his  immediate  neighborhood,  and  from  time  to  time  there  were 
disquieting  rumors  of  their  intention  to  make  a  night  attack. 
Colonel  Hogge,  with  four  companies  of  the  23d  Pioneers  and 
the  Norfolk  Maxim  detachment,  was,  however,  thoroughly 
able  to  hold  Tuna  against  any  conceivable  concentration  of 
Tibetan  forces.  The  telegraph  wire  was  not  put  up  to  Tuna  till 
March,  so  a  heliograph  on  the  summit  of  the  Tang  la  was  in 
daily  use. 

Meanwhile,  the  General  took  up  his  quarters  at  Chumbi,  in  a 
not  uncomfortable  house  at  Bakcham,  about  three-quarters  of  a 
mile  from  the  encampment  at  New  Chumbi.  The  Coolie  Corps, 
which  Mr.  White  had  undertaken  to  organize,  was  in  working 
order  by  the  middle  of  January,  and  under  the  able  superinten- 
dence of  Captain  Souter  contributed  greatly  to  the  accumulations 
of  stores,  which  were  steadily  passing  over  the  Jelep  route,  and 
creating  tarpaulin-covered  hillocks  at  Chumbi.  The  choice  of  the 
Natu  la  was  accepted  by  Mr.  White  after  the  alternative  road 


38  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

over  the  Yak  la  ^  had  been  tried.  The  Yak  la  is  the  shortest  road 
between  Chumbi  and  Gangtok,  to  which  place  a  good  cart-road 
runs  from  Siliguri  in  the  plains  of  India,  but  to  the  best  of  my 
belief  only  one  party  ever  crossed  it.  It  was  my  fortune  to  be  one 
of  them.  Bad  as  all  these  passes  are,  the  eastern  descent  of  the 
Yak  la  is  beyond  comparison  the  worst — a  mere  semi-perpendicu- 
lar scramble  four  miles  deep,  down  which  one  could  only  go  by 
jumping  from  one  boulder  to  another ;  many  of  these  were  coated 
with  ice,  and  some  crashed  down  the  khud  upon  the  lightest  pres- 
sure. I  do  not  think  I  have  ever  been  so  cold  in  my  life  as  when 
I  was  helping  Mr.  White  to  put  up  a  valuable  self-registering 
thermometer  upon  the  extreme  summit  of  the  Yak  la.  I  do  not 
remember  what  the  temperature  exactly  was;  I  remember  that 
when  we  took  it  out  of  the  box  it  was  4°  below  freezing-point, 
but  in  the  five  minutes  which  it  took  us  to  set  up  strongly  the  pole 
to  which  it  was  to  be  attached,  it  had  fallen  over  30° ;  there  was 
a  wind  like  a  knife  edge  the  whole  time,  against  which  thick 
clothing  and  poshteens  were  as  gauze.  To  illustrate  the  difficulty 
and  hardship  of  that  crossing,  it  is,  I  think,  only  necessary  to  say 
that  that  thermometer  still  stands  at  the  summit  of  the  pass;  no 
one  has  ever  summoned  up  enough  courage  to  go  and  take  it 
away.  The  idea  of  using  the  Yak  la  was  abandoned,  and  the 
lines  of  supply  were  thenceforward  the  Jelep  and  the  Natu  la. 
Over  these  no  burdened  beast  can  pass.  Only  on  the  backs  of 
coolies  could  the  precious  stores  be  carried  across,  slowly  and 
painfully.  It  was  a  tremendous  task,  and  it  was  difficult  to  believe 
that  day  after  day,  week  after  week,  month  after  month,  obstacles 
so  appalling  could  be  overcome  by  the  small  men  of  Sikkim  who 
composed  the  corps. 

Still,  forty  thousand  pounds'  weight  of  stores  was  daily  deliv- 
ered in  Chumbi,  and  Major  Bretherton  and  Captain  Souter  are 

*  The  yak  pass— pronounced  Ya  la.    The  Jelep  is  the  "beautiful  flat  pass" 

and  is  spelled  "  Tges-lep-la. " 


THE  REASONS  FOR  THE  EXPEDITION  39 

alike  to  be  congratulated  indeed  upon  so  brilliant  an  achievement. 
The  road  from  India  that  these  stores  had  traveled  is  worth  a 
chapter  to  itself.  Beyond  all  question  the  track  that  leads  from 
Siliguri  through  Sikkim  to  Phari  is  the  most  wonderful  and  beau- 
tiful on  earth. 


CHAPTER  III 

CROSSING   THE    HIMALAYAS 

SILIGURI  itself  was  of  no  greater  interest  than  the  rail- 
head of  any  expedition  usually  is.  It  is  true  that  it  had  be- 
come transformed  from  an  idle  little  junction,  whence  the  toy 
train  started  daily  for  Darjeeling,  into  a  bustling  warehouse  of 
military  supplies.  New  tents  sprang  up  in  rows,  tarpaulin- 
covered  heaps  rose  like  great  boulders  from  the  plain,  loaded 
trucks  crammed  the  sidings  of  the  station,  long  droves  of  mules 
detrained  and  were  sent  off— too  soon  in  many  cases— on  their 
long  journey  to  the  front.  Officers  reported  themselves  and 
went  on,  but  the  village  itself  remained  the  same  dull,  mosquito- 
ridden  spot,  which  has  always  been  avoided  like  the  plague  by 
any  one  whose  business  or  duty  brings  him  into  this  part  of  the 
world.  There  is  an  English  club  at  Jalpaiguri,  an  hour's  run 
away,  and  the  inadequacy  of  the  dak  bungalow  at  Siliguri  is 
chiefly  due  to  the  fact  that  no  one  used  it.  A  man  can  get  a  good 
dinner  at  seven  o'clock  in  the  railway  refreshment  rooms,  take  the 
Calcutta  express  an  hour  later,  and  sleep  at  Jalpaiguri.  Travelers 
who  have  looked  out  from  the  train  at  the  scattered  patch  of  low 
houses  that  spot  the  burnt  brown  grass  of  the  plain  have  seen  all 
that  there  is  of  interest  in  Siliguri.  The  tiny  track  of  the  Dar- 
jeeling railway  runs  in  timidly  beside  the  broad  gauge  of  the 
Bengal  line,  and  the  place  is  only  remembered  by  most  travelers 
as  the  point  at  which  they  climbed  into  the  little  char-a-banc  cars 
that  suggest  rather  a  child's  playing  at  traveling  than  a  serious 
railway  which  is  going  to  deposit  them  and  their  luggage  in 

40 


CROSSING  THE  HIMALAYAS  41 

Darjeeling  7,cx)0  feet  up  in  the  clouds  to  the  north.  Then  Siliguri 
passes  into  the  limbo  of  forgotten  things,  even  while  the  train 
is  making  its  violent  little  scamper  across  the  flat  to  the  foot  of 
the  hills,  or  leaping,  catlike,  from  side  to  side  of  the  slowly  up- 
winding  cart-road,  pouncing  upon  it  only  to  let  it  crawl  out  again 
from  under  the  wheels  of  its  little  engine  for  another  two  hun- 
dred yards  on  the  other  side. 

But  there  is  another  journey  to  be  made  from  Siliguri,  a  differ- 
ent journey  indeed.  It  promises  little  enough  at  the  beginning. 
One  rides  out  from  the  station,  threading  one's  way  at  first 
through  the  little  houses  of  the  town,  and  then  dodging  across 
the  irrigation  channels  of  the  fields  until  the  North  road  is  gained. 
As  you  climb  the  slope  of  the  low  embankment  and  kick  up  the 
first  hoofful  of  the  deep  dust  you  are  on  the  road  to  Lhasa.  The 
opening  stage  is  common  and  dreary  enough,  but  four  hundred 
miles  away  this  road,  which  you  see  slowly  slipping  below  you, 
ends  in  a  loop  insnaring  the  golden  roofs  of  the  Potala  and  of  the 
Cathedral,  and  round  that  loop  the  sad-eyed  lamas,  muttering 
their  unchanging  prayer,  creep  solemnly  all  day,  turning  ever  to 
the  right. 

Here  all  round  is  the  wide  flat  plain,  north,  south,  east,  and 
west ;  the  grass  is  burned,  the  fields  are  dusty,  and  the  white  ribbon 
of  the  road  swerves  and  straightens  between  the  heavy-scented, 
white-flowered  siris  trees,  like  any  other  road  in  the  peninsula.  To 
the  northward  the  clouds  conceal  the  rampart  of  the  Himalayas 
with  a  deep  gray  and  indigo  veil ;  elsewhere  the  sun  shines  crudely 
from  the  hard  white  sky.  Napil-para  slowly  heaves  in  sight,  just 
where  a  belt  of  trees  slants  inward  to  the  track ;  a  mile  further  on 
the  road  plunges  into  the  great  Baikuntpur  sal  forest.  A  country 
bullock  cart,  with  whining  wheels,  jolts  very  slowly  in  front, 
haloed  in  a  cloud  of  dust.  The  driver  is  asleep,  and  the  flies  settle 
spectacle-wise  around  the  sore  eyelids  of  the  sedate  beasts.  In 
after  days,  the  moaning,  dusty  cart,  redolent  of  all  the  heat  of 


42  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

Indian  plains,  just  entering  the  shade  of  the  tall  straight  sal  trees 
with  their  wide,  crimsoning  leaves,  was  a  curious  memory  in 
which  the  "  ching-chik,  ching-chik  "  of  the  spear-bells  of  the  mail 
runners,  bringing  their  letters  over  the  last  stage  of  their  long 
journey,  rang  continually  in  very  different  scenes.  Under  the 
shade  of  the  sal  forest  the  white  dust  heaps  itself  on  either  side  of 
the  track,  powdering  the  glossy  vegetation  and  reducing  every 
bush  and  plant  alike  to  the  nameless  insignificance  of  the  under- 
growth which  is  common  to  all  countries  in  all  dry  seasons.  For 
sheer  folly  the  idiotic  energy  of  a  sweeper  sweeping  in  mid- jungle 
was  equaled  by  the  inspiration  of  the  English  engineer,  who 
had  wasted  hundreds  of  precious  iron  telegraph  posts  beside  the 
road  where  nature  was  offering  him  a  pole  every  six  yards  gra- 
tuitous and  perfect. 

Half-way  through  the  wood  the  crossing  of  the  Phulbari  Ghat 
path  attracts  two  or  three  huts.  At  last  there  is  a  dip  and  the  road 
drops  at  the  eleventh  mile  to  cross  the  stream  into  Sevoke.  The 
sight  of  a  Himalayan  river  reaching  the  plain  is  worth  looking 
at.  The  Tista,  pent  up  between  narrow  and  precipitous  hills  for 
eighty  miles,  here  bursts  fan-wise  over  the  Terai,  marked  and  par- 
celed by  long  smooth  banks  of  sand,  through  which  in  twenty 
channels  the  suddenly  contented  water  drifts  slowly  and  at  peace. 

The  Himalayas'  southern  front  ends  with  an  abruptness  which 
is  almost  startling,  and  five  or  six  miles  away  it  would  have  been 
difficult  to  point  out  a  fissure  in  the  great  wall  of  mountains  which 
stands  untopped  across  the  wide  flat  waste  of  northern  Bengal. 
Through  this  curtain  there  is  this  one  narrow  channel  and  India 
ends  at  its  jaws.  The  towering  cliffs,  clothed  suddenly  with  vege- 
tation wherever  root-hold  can  be  found,  spring  sharply  upward 
and  the  first  turn  in  the  track  by  the  river  hides  the  plain,  with 
their  blue  lines  of  trees  fifteen  miles  away  beside  the  leveled  water. 
Sevoke,  planted  at  the  water-side  just  where  the  sticks  of  the  fan 
diverge,  is  a  little  street  of  grubby  huts.    Dust  hangs  heavy  in  the 


A  ROAD   IN  THE  HIMALAYAS 


CROSSING   THE  HIMALAYAS  43 

air,  and  dryness  dulls  the  leaves.  The  only  wet  thing  at  Sevoke 
is  the  water  itself,  as  it  slackens  way  and  gently  swerves  outward 
at  the  foot  of  its  long  stair.  Even  the  rough  dug-out  boats, 
moored  to  the  pebbly  bank,  are  coated  with  dust,  and  the  lumps 
of  camphor  are  almost  indistinguishable  in  the  boxes  in  the  shops 
from  the  inevitable  Pedro  cigarettes  beside  them.  From  Sevoke 
onward  the  beauty  of  the  road  begins  to  grow.  The  track  runs 
on  the  westward  bank  of  the  Tista,  fifteen  or  twenty  feet  above 
the  snow-green  water.  Almost  from  the  first  mile-post  it  is  a 
gradually  increasing  riot  of  foliage  such  as  Hooker  himself  ad- 
mitted to  be  unparalleled  in  the  world.  There  is  no  color  on  God's 
palette  which  he  has  not  used  along  this  road.  There  is  no 
variety  of  vegetation  which  he  has  not  permitted  to  find  its  own 
place  somewhere  beside  the  slowly  chilling  path.  Sal  and  gurjun 
lead  on  through  teak  to  kapok  and  bamboo,  then  on  through  tree 
fern  and  rhododendron  to  the  pine.  Beyond  these  last,  birch- 
trees  alone  survive  among  the  frozen  rocks  of  the  upper  snows. 
At  their  roots,  or  from  the  hill-side  above  their  tops,  round  their 
stems,  or  springing  from  their  wood  is  almost  every  flower  known 
to  man,  here  wasting  its  luxuriance  along  the  loneliest  and  love- 
liest two  hundred  miles  on  earth.  Pepper  ferns,  with  their  dark 
green  glossy  foliage,  vines  and  bind-weeds,  begonias  and  aspho- 
del tangle  themselves  about  the  undergrowth'of  gorgeous  shrubs, 
or  stumps  gay  with  scarlet  fungus  and  dripping  moss.  Overhead 
the  bald  scarp  of  the  rock,  orange  and  ocher  and  cinnamon,  rarely 
broke  through  the  trailing  glories  of  smilax  and  other  creepers. 
Once  or  twice  down  on  the  road  itself,  where  a  passage  had  been 
blasted  years  ago,  the  deep  crystalline  garnet  rang  not  only  with 
the  echoes  of  the  sweeping  water  below,  but  with  the  tiny  per- 
sistence of  the  drip-well  from  its  roof.  Ferns  lurk  in  every  cleft, 
and,  higher  up,  the  majesty  of  some  great  osmunda  thrusts  itself 
clear  of  the  green  confusion  round  its  roots.  Of  greens,  indeed, 
from  the  dark  moss  myrtle  of  some  varnished  leaf  that  ought  to 


44  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

have  been  a  magnolia,  but  probably  was  not,  to  the  aquamarine 
of  the  young  and  dusted  bamboo  grass,  from  the  feathery  emerald 
of  some  patch  of  giant  moss  to  the  rich  olive  of  a  crown- vallary 
of  orchid,  none  is  unrepresented. 

Where  the  valley  vegetation  lies  in  the  ugliest  putrefaction, 
there  you  will  find  the  living  jewels  of  this  long  fillet— a  flash  of 
emerald  and  chrome  glazed  with  chocolate;  a  patch  of  brown, 
shot  through  and  through  with  sapphire  in  the  sun;  a  swallow- 
tail with  olivine  and  black  velvet  where  we  may  rarely  see,  beside 
some  Norfolk  broad,  the  dun  and  cream  of  his  poor  English 
cousin.  Strong  in  the  wing,  zigzagging  unballasted  in  ten-foot 
swoops  of  pure  color,  the  butterflies  lace  the  sunlight.  And  un- 
derfoot in  the  deep  soft  white  dust  the  kidney  footmark  of  the 
brown  ox  or  the  kukri-like  print  of  the  high-instepped  native  are 
the  only  reminders  in  that  hot  world  of  color  that  there  are  other 
things  as  graceless  as  oneself. 

At  Riang,  where  the  road  falls  into  the  river  every  year  with 
a  regularity  worthy  of  something  better,  a  stream  breaks  through 
from  the  west,  and  for  a  moment  the  dingy  picturesqueness  of  a 
semi-Indian  settlement  beneath  its  trees  drives  back  the  beauties 
of  the  road.  But  in  half  a  mile  the  path  turns  again  beneath  close 
matted  branches  overhead  and  winds,  deep  rutted,  beside  the  rank 
dark  vegetation  which  is  characteristic  of  just  this  place — flower- 
less,  amorphous,  and  heavy.  The  Tista  bridge  swings  out  its 
curve  from  behind  a  rock,  and  one  crosses  the  narrow  span,  re- 
alizing from  its  scanty  width  that  one  has  left  behind  the  normal 
limits  of  wheeled  cart  traffic.  The  road,  still  ascending,  keeps  on 
the  left  bank  of  the  Tista  river,  passing  Mali-ghat  among  its  trees 
three  miles  on.  Slowly  the  character  of  the  vegetation  changes, 
though  the  fact  of  its  being  still  tropical  is  clear  enough  from  a 
tiger  trap  half-way  between  Mali-ghat  and  Tar  Kola.  Beside  this 
latter  place  the  road  runs  along  tirelessly,  curving  and  recurving 
beside  the  shallow  stream.    At  the  junction  of  the  Tista  with  the 


ENCAMPED  UNDER  THE  SHADOW  OF  THE  HIMALAYAS 


CROSSING   THE   HIMALAYAS  45 

Rang-po  the  creaming  white  crests  over  the  rock  points  below 
vahantly  hold  their  own  all  day  against  the  down  sweep  of  the 
green  turquoise  flood.  Sometimes  for  a  mile  one  does  but  hear 
the  stream  of  the  Rang-po  murmuring  invisibly  through  the 
trees;  again  over  its  very  waters  the  track  clings  scantily  round 
the  bare  red  scarp  of  some  intruding  spur,  hand-railed  most  rot- 
tenly. A  warm  breath  of  guimauve-like  scent  pants  out  at  one 
here:  there  is  the  sweet  acrid  perfume  of  wild  geranium,  more 
taste  than  smell.  The  fierce  glare  of  the  day  sinks  imperceptibly 
into  a  cooler  and  a  steadier  light;  there  is  no  sign  of  sunset  yet 
awhile ;  only  the  high  crowned  ridges  of  the  western  heights  break 
his  force.  And  presently  the  dust  on  the  patient  road-side  foliage 
seems  half  shaken  off,  and  tints  and  shades  creep  out  on  surfaces 
which  the  blatant  heat  of  midday  had  frightened  into  an  insignifi- 
cant blur  of  neutral  colors. 

Here  the  cactus  stops  for  a  while,  why,  I  do  not  know :  there  are 
.  many  puzzles  in  this  Himalayan  botany.  Why  does  the  rhodo- 
:  dendron  grow  to  the  very  highest  spot  on  the  south  and  refuse 
to  put  forth  a  leaf  at  any  elevation  to  the  north?  Why  does  the 
blue  poppy  of  Tibet  despise  utterly  the  identical  rocks  and  ledges 
offered  at  the  same  height  south  of  the  Tang  la?  Why  does  the 
bamboo  stop  with  a  certainty  and  cleanness  at  a  height  of  9,500 
feet  on  the  south,  which  enables  the  Bhutanese  to  use  it  as  their 
frontier  mark,  while  two  hundred  miles  away  on  a  hillside  at 
Lhasa  a  flourishing  twenty-five-foot  hedge  keeps  the  cold  from 
the  Chief  Wizard's  house,  nearly  13,000  feet  above  the  sea? 

You  will  cross  the  bridge  at  Rang-po ;  and  there  you  will  stay 
the  night,  sleeping  under  mosquito  nets  for  the  last  time.  The 
stream  you  have  just  crossed  you  will  meet  again  under  very  dif- 
ferent circumstances,  but  some  suggestion  of  the  clear  emerald 
of  its  ice-bound  pools  at  Lagyap  still  lingers  as  it  joins  the  snow- 
stained  waters  of  the  Rang-po.  Still  going  on,  your  path  lies  on 
the  left  bank  of  the  latter  river,  chiefly  bound  up  against  the  side 


46  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

of  the  river  cliff.  Six  miles  will  take  you  to  the  last  river 
that  you  will  have  to  follow  till  Tibet  is  reached.  The  Rong-ni 
is,  after  all,  the  most  beautiful  stream  that  you  will  have 
tramped  beside.  Here  the  two  vegetations  mingle,  and  the  orange 
groves  of  Dowgago  mark  the  transfusion  of  the  two.  Here  the 
maples  and  the  violets  begin,  the  geraniums  and  the  daphnes, 
the  lobelias  and  the  honeysuckles,  the  ivies  and  the  elder- 
trees — the  first  outposts  of  the  European  zone.  But  we  have 
not  yet  lost  the  creepers  and  hydrangeas  of  the  south  before 
the  first  azalea-like  rhododendrons  bear  promise  of  the  shrub 
that,  towering  at  the  7,000-foot  line  to  eighty  feet  in  height  and 
dwindling  again  to  three  or  four  inches  on  the  pass,  will  remain 
with  us  till  the  frontier  line  is  crossed.  Here  the  bamboos  in- 
sinuate themselves  at  last,  and  as  the  road  sweeps  up  and  up,  the 
undergrowth  rising  here  and  there  into  the  magnificence  of  the 
tree  fern,  every  corner  betrays  a  fresh  scene  of  luxuriance  and 
grace.  Sometimes  the  bank  opposite  rises  steep  as  a  precipice 
and  red  as  an  old  English  garden  wall,  veiled  with  overhanging 
creepers  and  rich  with  green  moss  in  every  crevice  and  on  every 
ledge :  elsewhere  the  bank  breaks  away  into  a  wide  slope  of  tan- 
gled jungle,  clothed  with  small  ponds  of  greenery  where  the  need 
of  the  dotted  white  huts  has  cleared,  leveled  and  sown.  Here  the 
first  tender  rice  tips  peep  above  the  mud.  Round  the  echoing, 
waterworn  curves  of  rock  overhung  by  trees  and  screw-pines, 
hanging  on,  God  knows  how,  to  the  bare  face  of  the  rock,  cross- 
ing some  small  stream  rustling  under  its  canopy  of  shade,  still 
mounting  every  mile,  the  track  goes  on,  until  the  last  bridge  is 
crossed  and  the  long  splendid  zigzags  of  the  new  road  to  Gang- 
tok,  which  no  one  uses,  seam  the  hill  in  front.  The  barest  novice 
knows  the  short  cuts,  and  with  your  ears  cracking  every  twenty 
minutes,  you  clamber  up  the  old  stony  road,  which  saves  two  miles 
in  six.  At  last  the  Residency,  or  rather  the  foliage  which  con- 
ceals it,  seems  less  hopelessly  distant  than  it  did,  and  coming  out 


CROSSING   THE  HIMALAYAS  47 

again  upon  the  white,  well-made  road,  one  climbs  at  an  easy  gra- 
dient to  the  capital  of  Sikkim.  On  the  left  is  the  deep  green  cut- 
ting of  the  river  we  have  crossed,  a  league  in  width  and  lost  be- 
hind a  ten-mile  distant  corner.  The  double  Residency  gates  open 
and  shut  behind  one,  and  through  the  tree  ferns  and  the  dying 
bamboos  of  the  drive*  one  emerges  into  the  English  roses  and 
clean,  short  turf  of  Mrs.  Claude  White's  home-made  Paradise. 

The  Residency  brings  a  whiff  of  England  into  this  far  distant 
country.  It  is  a  substantial  and  handsome  little  building  of  stone, 
roofed  in  red  of  such  a  well-remembered  tint,  that  it  is  some  time 
before  one  realizes  that  tiles  are  impossible  at  Gangtok.  Hitherto 
it  has  been  the  end  of  all  northern  travel  in  India,  and  it  must 
have  been  curious  for  the  rare  travelers  who  made  demands  on 
Claude  White's  famous  hospitality,  to  find  this  dainty  gem  of  a 
house,  furnished  from  Oxford  Street  within,  and  without  en- 
circled with  the  tree  ferns  and  orchids  of  this  exquisite  valley. 
It  is  a  perfect  spot.  Far  off  to  the  west  rise  the  pinnacles  of  Nur- 
sing and  Pan-dim ;  to  the  north  there  hangs  in  heaven  that  most 
exquisite  of  all  peaks  of  earth,  Siniolchu. 

Beyond  Gangtok,  before  the  Expedition  came,  there  was  no 
road.  Indeed,  a  road  wide  enough  for  carts  was  finished  only 
eighteen  months  ago  up  to  the  gates  of  the  Residency.  Further 
on,  it  is  still  a  bridle  track  hugging  the  side  of  the  hill,  barely 
thrusting  its  way  through  the  dense  wall  of  bamboo  which  rises 
on  either  side  like  the  green  walls  through  which  Moses  led  his 
flying  countrymen.^  Overhead  the  giant  rhododendrons  branch 
upward  to  the  sky,  high  as  a  London  house.  No  one  who 
knows  the  rhododendron  of  England  can  form  the  faintest  con- 
ception of  what  these  monsters  of  the  upper  hills  are  like.  The 
trees  at  Haigh  Hall  and  at  Cobham  are  regarded  by  their  own- 

*  All  the  bamboos  of  the  Gangtok  district  fertilized  and  died  in  1904. 

•The  color,  too,  contributes  to  the  fantasy,  for  here  the  blue-leaved  Hooker's 
ba^iboo  grows  more  freely  among  its  commoner  brethren  than  anywhere  else 
in  the  Himalayas. 


48  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

ers  with  some  complacency.  But  in  size  they  are  mere  shrubs 
compared  with  their  brothers  of  Sikkim,  and  in  beauty  they  are 
left  far  behind.  "  I  know  nothing  of  the  kind,"  says  Hooker, 
"  which  exceeds  in  beauty  the  flowering  branch  of  rhododendron 
argenteum,  with  its  wide-spreading  foliage  and  glorious  mass 
of  flowers."  This  variety,  though  it  does  not  grow  to  the  height 
of  its  brethren,  is  the  finest  of  them  all.  The  enormous  glossy 
leaves,  powdered  with  white  underneath,  are  thrown  with  a  care- 
less grace  around  the  splendid  blossoms,  arranged  with  all  the 
delicate  looseness  and  lightness  which  none  but  the  Master 
Gardener  could  give  to  this  royal  and  massive  foliage.  The  ac- 
tual florets  of  the  commoner  kinds  are  undoubtedly  poorer  than 
those  of  the  English  variety,  and  there  is  an  ineffective  conical 
arrangement  of  their  azalea-like  blossoms  which  the  Englishman 
notices  at  once.  But  in  their  masses,  crimson,  lemon,  and  white, 
they  star  the  dark  green  steamy  recesses  of  the  path,  and,  except- 
ing only  the  magnolia,  are  the  most  striking  flowers  upon  the 
road. 

These  magnolias  are  strange  plants.  They  seem  to  turn 
color  as  they  reach  the  limit  of  their  growth,  and  the  pure  white 
is  lost  in  a  tinge  of  purple.  Unlike  the  magnolias  which  occa- 
sionally overpower  the  scents  of  an  entire  rectory  garden  in 
England,  the  waxen  flowers  grow  on  naked  lilac  stickery.  The 
wide,  enameled  leaves,  which  seem  so  indispensable  at  home, 
are  gone.  I  do  not  know  whether  they  appear  later,  but  the 
magnolia  seems  to  be  outside  ordinary  rules  of  plant  life.  One 
species  has  even  the  depressing  habit  of  dropping  its  flowers 
unopened  on  the  ground  below.  Oaks  grow  here,  though  in 
a  chastened  way.  An  English  tree  which  takes  fuller  advantage 
of  the  rank  vegetable  mold  and  steamy  hothouse  climate  of  Sik- 
kim is  the  juniper.  This,  which  is  best  known  to  the  inhabi- 
tants of  towns  in  the  shape  of  "  cedar "  pencils,  grows  to  a 
height  of  forty  or  fifty  feet,  and  Mr.  White  has,  on  two  occasions, 


CROSSING  THE   HIMALAYAS  49 

made  an  attempt  to  develop  a  regular  trade  with  the  manufac- 
turers. They  admitted  that  the  wood  sent  was  as  good  as  any 
they  could  buy,  but  the  contracts  they  had  entered  into  for  the 
supply  of  this  wood  bound  them  for  some  years  to  come.  An- 
other industrial  product  of  this  jungle  is  madder,  and  the  dark 
crimson  robes  of  both  Tibetan  churches,  Red  and  Yellow  alike 
— for  the  distinction  is  shown  only  in  the  cap — owe  their  rich- 
ness to  the  hill-sides  of  Sikkim.  Elephant  creeper  winds  up  the 
forest  trees,  the  huge  leaves  nuzzling  into  the  bark  all  round 
like  a  swarm  of  gigantic  bees.  The  common  white  orchid,  which 
is  wired  to  make  a  two-guinea  spray  in  London,  is  a  weed  at 
Gangtok.  Its  quaintly  writhen  blossoms  of  snow  hang  over- 
head in  such  profusion  that  one  welcomes  a  shyer  blossom, 
trumpet  shaped,  and  of  the  color  and  coolness  of  a  lemon-ice. 
The  orchids  are  not  the  only  epiphytes ;  other  parasites  than  they 
crown  the  living  branch  with  their  coronals  of  leaves,  more 
lovely  than  the  trees  they  feed  upon. 

The  game  here  is  very  scanty :  the  reason  is  not  uninteresting. 
For,  dormant  or  active,  visible  or  invisible,  the  curse  of  Sikkim 
waits  for  its  warm-blooded  visitor.  The  leeches  of  these  lovely 
valleys  have  been  described  again  and  again  by  travelers.  Un- 
fortunately the  description,  however  true  in  every  particular, 
has,  as  a  rule,  but  wrecked  the  reputation  of  the  chronicler. 
Englishmen  cannot  understand  these  pests  of  the  hot  mountain- 
side, which  appear  in  March,  and  exist  like  black  threads  fring- 
ing every  leaf  till  September  kills  them  in  myriad  millions.^ 
Spruce  grows  here  under  a  Latin  name,  and  the  writer  enters 
thereupon  a  layman's  protest.  It  takes  away  half  the  interest 
of  new  and  tropical  vegetation  if  the  only  names  that  one  can 

*It  is  worth  a  passing  note  that  these  unwelcome  visitors  can  be  driven 
from  the  nostrils  of  the  cattle  exactly  as  MacComglinney  enticed  the  "law- 
less beast "  from  the  throat  of  King  Cathal.  A  bowl  of  warm  milk  at  the  cow's 
nose,  a  little  slip-knot,  and  a  quick  hand  are  all  that  is  required.  Fourteen 
or  fifteen  have  been  successively  thus  taken  from  the  nostrils  of  one  unfor- 
tunate heifer. 


50  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

be  told  for  some  magnificent  or  graceful  thing  are  Latin  atro- 
cities, generally  embedding  some  uncouth  Teutonic  surname. 
In  a  country  like  Sikkim  one's  resentment  is  doubled;  when  a 
good  English  word  lies  ready  to  hand,  why  should  it  be  nec- 
essary to  call  the  spruce  tree  abies  excelsa,  or,  worse  still,  Smith- 

iana? 

Leaving  Gangtok,  the  last  reminder  of  the  West,  one  strikes 
out  east  by  north  to  make  the  final  climb  which  takes  us  out  of 
the  Empire.  For  five  miles  the  road  is— or  rather,  until  the 
rains  came,  was— a  good  one.  Beyond  that,  in  spite  of  much 
hard  work  of  pioneers  and  sappers,  the  track  is  bad  indeed. 
Karponang,^  when  I  returned  through  it  for  the  last  time,  is 
a  far-stretched  hamlet,  lying  in  long  tiered  sheds  against  the 
mountain  wall,  and  the  last  pretense  of  a  road  along  which  a 
wheel  can  go  is  here  frankly  abandoned.  Beyond  it  is  a  section 
of  the  road  which  for  months  was  the  despair  of  the  engineers. 
"The  tenth  to  the  thirteenth  mile  "  passed  into  proverbial  use 
as  a  standard  of  utter  badness  and  instability.  When  the  road 
was  cut  out  of  the  rock  it  was  too  narrow  for  the  easy  passage 
of  a  loaded  beast;  where  it  was  cut  out  of  the  hill  soil,  a  night's 
rain  sent  it  down  the  khud.  Where  it  crossed  a  cataract,  the 
bridge  gave  more  trouble  than  a  quarter  of  a  mile  of  honest 
rock.  Where,  as  it  too  often  did,  it  jutted  straight  out  on  bam- 
boo brackets  from  the  side  of  the  cliff,  800  feet  above  the  whis- 
pering stream  below,  the  bamboos  used  to  rot  with  a  rapidity 
unknown  elsewhere.  Landslips  were  the  rule  rather  than  the 
exception.  The  whole  length  was  sprayed  with  continual  rivu- 
lets through  the  rank  vegetation  which  overhung  the  track; 

*The  name  Karponang  was  suggested  for  the  ten-mile  stage  by  the 
writer.  From  a  perilously  insufficient  knowledge  of  Tibetan,  karpo  seemed 
to  mean  "  white  "  and  nang  was  clearly  a  "  house  "  ;  and  as  some  shorter  title 
was  needed  for  the  political  officer's  bantling,  Karponang  stuck,  though  it  is 
not,  perhaps,  a  particularly  idiomatic  rendering  of  what  it  was  intended  to 
mean. 


CROSSING   THE   HIMALAYAS  51 

all  afternoon  these  washed  away  the  mold  with  which  the  bald 
sharp  rock-points  of  the  blasted  road  were  covered;  all  night 
they  formed  a  coat  of  ice  which  made  it  impossible  for  man 
or  beast  to  stand  or  go  upon  it.  Accidents  upon  this  stretch 
were  painfully  common;  two  men  were  killed  by  a  dynamite 
explosion,  though  in  common  fairness  to  even  this  unfortunate 
exhibition  of  nature,  she  can  hardly  be  held  responsible  for  the 
folly  of  men  who  dry  their  dynamite  at  a  fire.  Four  men  were 
overwhelmed  here  by  a  gush  of  liquid  mud,  just  when  three 
weeks'  hard  work  upon  the  road  at  that  point  was  finished.  One 
man  slipped  down,  or  maybe  he  was  kicked — for  the  mules 
disliked  this  "  trang  "  with  almost  reasonable  intuition— and  the 
loss  of  mules  near  Karponang  was  heavier  than  anywhere  else 
upon  the  road.  On  a  winter  afternoon  a  mile  an  hour  was  good 
going  along  this  stage.  Any  attempt  to  ride  was  out  of  the  ques- 
tion ;  painfully  prodding  one's  way  with  a  khud-stick,  one  scram- 
bled up  or  glissaded  down  over  the  unfenced  ice-slides  thinly 
veiled  with  dirt.  One's  beast  was  led  behind  one  with  mincing 
steps  and  starting  eyes.  It  was  a  bad  road;  and  the  noise  of 
waters  many  hundred  feet  sheer  below  was  always  painfully 
present  in  the  ears.  Lagyap  was  the  next  halting-place,  hanging 
over  the  gulf  like  an  eagle's  nest. 

Beyond  Lagyap,  the  road,  as  a  road,  did  not  exist.  The 
ascent  was  tolerably  steep,  and  one  either  strode  from  boulder 
to  boulder,  or  trod,  at  the  risk  of  one's  ankles,  between  the  stones. 
This,  after  five  miles,  is  wearisome  work.  And  even  the  sight 
of  Lagyap  Pool,  the  most  beautiful  basin  of  ice-bound  emerald 
water  that  I  have  ever  seen,  fails  to  cheer  one  up.  Up  under 
the  pine-trees,  slipping  and  staggering,  where  no  road  pretended 
to  have  been  ever  cleared,  we  reached  Changu  Lake  at  last. 
Here  we  were  clear  of  trees ;  the  dwarf  rhododendrons  ran  along 
the  ground  in  acre  patches,  a  foot  in  height,  but  the  last  tree 
barely  showed  its  head  over  the  great  natural  dam  which  shuts 


52  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

in  the  waters  of  the  lake.  One  leaves  a  land  of  timber;  one 
comes  to  a  land  of  rock,  and  the  dividing-line  is  as  clean  as  if  it 
had  been  the  work  of  man.  Behind  us,  also,  we  left  one  of  the 
most  magnificent  views  in  the  world,  for  the  deep  green  valleys 
of  Sikkim,  like  some  loosely  thrown  length  of  myrtle-green 
velvet,  lie  out  for  the  last  time  many  thousands  of  feet  below, 
stretching  on  till  the  gray  gauze  of  sheer  distance  overtook  the 
tint,  and  only  the  pure,  clean  argent  of  those  Himalayan  snows, 
which  have  no  rival  on  this  planet,  lifted  themselves  into  the 
blue. 

It  is  an  austere  country  into  which  we  are  now  moving. 
The  lake  is  a  mile  long  and  perhaps  6cx)  yards  in  width;  nearly 
all  the  year  round  it  is  frozen,  though  in  the  bitterest  days  of 
mid-winter,  when  the  thermometer  is  nightly  going  down  to 
5°  or  io°  below  zero,  there  is  always  on  the  southern  side  of 
the  lake  an  unfrozen  pool.  The  cliffs  sweep  down  into  the  basin, 
bare  and  unlovely.  To  the  east,  whither  our  road  still  is  to  run, 
the  nakedness  of  a  steep  ascent  of  wearisome  boulders  is  barely 
qualified  by  the  stunted  rhododendron  growth.  At  Changu 
there  is  now  a  comfortable  bungalow,  and  only  those  in  dire 
necessity  will  fail  to  stop  the  night.  The  hardest  work  of  all 
the  road  to  Lhasa  lies  before  us  on  the  morrow,  and  though  I 
have  more  than  once  passed  through  from  Chumbi  without  a 
halt,  there  is  no  doubt  that  the  exertion  can  only  be  justified  by 
real  urgency.  Leaving  Changu  in  the  morning,  the  traveler, 
considering  the  very  short  way  he  knows  he  has  to  go,  will 
demur  at  the  earliness  of  his  start.  But  there  will  be  no  mercy 
shown  him.  He  will  be  allowed,  perhaps,  to  ride  for  500  yards ; 
after  that  he  will  prefer  to  trust  to  his  own  feet  until  all  except 
the  last  three  miles  of  the  stage  have  been  covered.  Climbing 
over  these  boulder-strewn  surfaces  would  be  bad  at  the  sea-level ; 
here,  where  the  air  is  so  thin,  it  soon  becomes  a  burden  to  pull 
one's  solid  body  over  the  heartless  obstacles.     If  the  ascent  be 


CROSSING  THE  HIMALAYAS  53 

at  all  steep,  the  newcomer  will  sit  down  every  twenty  or  thirty 
yards.  His  muscles  are  not  tired,  and  he  regains  his  strength 
in  a  surprisingly  short  time,  but  at  the  moment  he  sinks  upon 
some  friendly  stone  he  thinks  that  another  step  forward  would 
be  his  last.  This  is  a  peculiarity  which  it  is  impossible  to  de- 
scribe to  those  who  have  never  been  more  than  a  thousand  feet 
or  so  above  sea-level.  The  lungs  seem  foolishly  inadequate  to 
the  task  imposed  upon  them;  the  pluckiness  of  one's  own  heart 
is  an  unmistakable,  but  somewhat  terrifying,  symptom,  for  it 
goes  on  beating  with  increasing  strokes  till  it  shakes  the  walls 
of  the  body;  and  not  the  written  testimony  of  the  leading 
heart  expert  in  London  will  convince  you  that  it  is  not  on  the 
point  of  bursting  its  envelope.  Then  you  may  be  thankful  indeed 
if  you  escape  mountain  sickness.  If  that  should  come  upon  you, 
your  bitterest  enemy  will  lead  your  horse  for  you.  I  have  seen 
cases  of  mountain  sickness  in  which  amazement  overwhelmed 
even  one's  sympathy.  I  have  seen  men  in  such  a  state,  that  they 
seem  to  have  every  symptom  of  habitual  drunkenness;  all  the 
limbs  shiver,  and  in  the  bloodless  face  the  eyes  have  that  ex- 
traordinary look  of  insanity  which  is,  I  think,  caused  by  an  in- 
ability to  focus  them.  The  speech  comes  with  difficulty,  and  in 
one  case  that  I  saw  the  mental  coherence  was  as  obviously  at 
fault  as  the  physical.  But,  strange  though  the  appearance  is 
to  the  outsider,  for  the  sufferer  himself  I  do  not  suppose  that 
there  can  well  be  condensed  into  three  or  four  hours  such  an 
agony  of  aching.  The  brain  seems  cleft  into  two,  and  the  wedge, 
all  blunt  and  splintery,  is  hammered  into  it  as  by  mallet  strokes 
at  every  pulsation  of  the  heart.  Partial  relief  is  secured  by 
a  violent  fit  of  sickness  (which,  however,  is  not  always  forth- 
coming), and  through  all  this  you  have  still  to  go  on,  to  go  on, 
to  go  on. 

Here,  too,  the  wind  exacts  its  toll,  and  drives  a  cold,  aching 
shaft  into  your  liver.     This  is  no  slight  matter,  for  the  toil  of 


54  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

climbing  is  excessive,  and  the  exertion  of  covering  half  a  mile 
will  drench  a  man  with  perspiration.  He  then  sits  down,  and 
this  strong  wind  plays  upon  him  to  his  own  enjoyment,  and 
to  the  destruction  of  his  lungs.^ 

Up  one  still  goes  till  the  lake  lies  a  mile  behind  one,  still  un- 
touched by  the  first  rays  of  the  dawn.  Often  a  steep  descent 
as  treacherous  to  the  foot  as  the  ascent  has  to  be  made.  One 
of  the  most  tedious  and  tiresome  things  about  this  track  is  the 
wearisome  necessity,  which  awaits  you  round  every  corner,  of 
losing  at  a  stroke  two-thirds  of  the  advantage  that  you  have 
just  won  by  an  hour's  hard  work.  It  appeals  to  the  mind,  and 
shortens  the  temper  at  a  time  when  any  friction  in  the  human 
microcosm  is  waste  of  strength.  One  resents  the  man  who  first 
pointed  out  the  track.  One  is  inclined  to  think,  that  had  one 
only  a  few  hours  more,  one  could  oneself  find  a  far  more 
economical  path  than  that  by  which  one  is  now  obliged  to  go. 
This,  a  very  common  failing,  as  I  have  noticed  myself,  perhaps 
indicates  that  one's  common  sense  also  is  a  little  affected  in 
these  high  altitudes.  Two  miles  from  Changn  is  the  only  level 
portion  of  the  day's  march.  One  goes  across  the  little  plain, 
and  makes  for  exactly  the  one  point  which  a  stranger  would 
decide  to  be  the  most  impossible  in  all  the  amphitheater. 

The  Sebu  la  is  beyond  question  the  most  difficult  point  of 
all  the  road  from  Siliguri  to  the  end,  a  sheer  wall  of  precipitous 
rock,  springing  up  from  the  level  plain.  On  looking  closely 
one  can  see  some  symptoms  of  a  zigzagging  road  climbing  up- 
ward, and  by  those  zigzags  you  have  to  go,  for  the  rock  itself 
allows  no  other  path.  This  is  the  most  heart-breaking  climb 
of  all  the  day.  You  may,  perhaps,  here  overtake  the  slow, 
painful  tramp  of  the  coolies  sent  on,  even  before  your  own  ris- 
ing, from  the  last  stage;  pack  animals  are  impossible  on  a  road 
like  this.  The  strange  thick-calved,  patient  men,  carrying  bur- 
*  Pneumonia  caused  more  deaths  than  any  other  disease. 


CROSSING   THE   HIMALAYAS  55 

dens  which  no  EngHshman  would  shoulder,  move  steadily  on- 
ward over  their  six-mile  stage.^ 

One  climbs  at  last  to  the  crest  of  the  Sebu  la.  One  goes 
thirty  yards  round  a  projecting  rock,  and  at  once  one  is  obliged 
to  scramble  as  best  one  can  down  a  declivity  which  lands  one 
400  feet  below  the  level  of  the  little  plain  from  which  one 
has  climbed  to  the  top  of  the  Sebu  la.  It  all  seems  so  unneces- 
sary, so  wanton.  At  the  bottom,  one  crosses  the  bed  of  a  river 
closely  packed  with  rough  and  heavy  water-worn  rock,  but  no 
stonier  than  the  road  leading  down  to  it  on  either  side.  There 
is  still  another  steady  rise  to  the  heights  of  the  Natu  la.  One 
seems  to  have  wandered  in  a  vast  amphitheater  of  rock  and  stone 
for  days.  The  homely  bungalow  at  Changu  has  faded  among 
the  recollections  of  another  year,  and  you  are  wise  if  you  do 
not  ask  how  loQg  it  will  still  take  to  climb  to  the  summit  of 
these  weary  hills.  Just  about  this  time,  you  begin  to  realize 
why  Tibet  has  remained  a  shut-up  country  for  so  long.  The 
transportation  of  an  army  and,  what  is  far  more  wonderful, 
its  daily  supply  across  the  water-shed  between  the  Tista  and  the 
Ammo  chu  will  probably  remain  an  unrivaled  feat  of  transport 
and  supply  in  the  history  of  warfare.  In  old  days,  marches, 
which  would  to-day  be  regarded  as  impossible,  were  somehow 
carried  out.     But  we  have  never  been  told  the  loss  of  life  that 

*The  weight  that  these  Central  Asian  coolies  can  carry  is  astounding;  the 
ordinary  load  is  from  80  to  100  pounds,  nearly  double  a  man's  pack  on  the  level 
plains  of  India.  But  these  Bhutias,  when  paid  by  the  job,  do  not  hesitate  to 
double  and  even  treble  the  load.  I  have  myself  seen  a  man  carry  into  camp 
three  telegraph  poles  on  his  back,  each  weighing  a  trifle  under  90  pounds.  Fur- 
ther east  the  tea  porters  of  Se-chuan  are  notorious  and  loads  of  350  pounds  are  not 
unknown.  Setting  aside  the  story  of  a  Bhutia  lady  who  carried  a  piano  on 
her  head  up  to  Darjeeling  from  the  plains  as  too  well  known  to  be  likely  to 
be  exact,  the  record  seems  to  be  held  by  a  certain  Chinese  coolie  who  under- 
took, in  his  own  time,  to  transport  a  certain  casting,  needed  for  heavy  ma- 
chinery, inland  to  its  owner.  The  casting  weighed  570  pounds,  and  the  carriage 
was  slowly  but  successfully  accomplished. 

An  English  bricklayer  is  forbidden,  by  the  rules  of  his  union,  to  carry  more 
than  14  pounds. 


56  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

accompanied  the  ultimate  arrival  in  India  of  Genghiz  Khan, 
Alexander,  or  Nadir  Shah.  But  the  road  dips  downward  for 
the  last  time  at  the  half-way  stage,  and  we  are  free  to  make 
the  best  of  the  remaining  clamber  which  lies  now  uninterruptedly 
before  us  to  the  pass. 

Much  has  been  made  of  the  added  horrors  of  ice  and  snow. 
As  a  matter  of  fact,  bare-footed  though  the  coolies  are,  it  was 
a  merciful  relief  for  them  when  the  snow  lay  packed  into 
a  kindly  carpet  blanketing  the  boulders  under  foot.  The 
only  difficulty  then  was  said  to  be  that  of  losing  the  road. 
Only  those  who  have  been  over  the  Natu  la  can  quite  understand 
the  grim  foolishness  of  speaking  of  losing  the  road  over  it. 
It  is  true  that  there  is  a  track.  Probably  that  track,  so  far  as  it 
can  be  distinguished  from  the  hill-side,  above  and  below,  repre- 
sents as  good  a  means  of  getting  to  the  top  as  any  other.  But 
so  far  as  the  ground  is  concerned  there  is  almost  nothing  to 
choose;  and  not  the  least  remarkable  thing  is  the  steady  persis- 
tent refusal  of  the  coolies  to  use  the  easy  zigzag  path  which  has 
been  made  for  them  over  the  last  200  yards  to  the  top.  It  is 
roughly  true  to  say  that  no  hill  coolie  will  deign  to  use  an  easier 
path  than  that  which  goes  straight  to  his  journey's  end,  though 
one  might  have  expected  that  after  a  long  and  wearying  climb 
over  this  heart-breaking  mountain-side,  the  chance  of  an  easy 
and  steady  climb  for  even  so  short  a  distance  would  have  been 
eagerly  accepted. 

We  have  now  reached  14,300  feet,  and  before  we  climb  the 
last  remaining  steps,  it  is  worth  while  to  turn  back  and  watch 
for  the  last  time  the  scenes  through  which  we  have  come  so 
painfully.  Away  to  the  left  a  gigantic  bastion  of  rock  carries  the 
sister  road  over  the  Jelep  la,  and  away  to  the  southwest  Ling-tu, 
on  the  crest  of  the  6,000  feet  precipice  up  which  the  road  is 
zigzagged,  can  be  seen  in  the  clear  air.  The  Jelep  Pass  itself 
is  hidden  by  the  bulk  of  the  range,  though  only  three  miles 


CROSSING   THE   HIMALAYAS  57 

away.  A  little  lake  lies  frozen  in  the  stony  bowl  up  the  sides 
of  which  we  have  just  come.  Far  below  its  edge  falls  another 
mighty  hollow,  and  yet  we  do  not  see  a  blade  or  leaf.  Only 
beyond  and  below,  peering  through  one  of  the  little  crevasses 
in  the  ringed  hills,  there  is  the  dark  mantle  of  the  Sikkim  woods. 
One  turns  one's  back  upon  it  for  the  last  time,  and  gains  the 
summit,  where  three  heaps  of  stones,  piled  by  pious  travelers, 
support  a  flagged  bush,  the  usual  ornament  of  every  pass  in 
the  country.  One  takes  another  step,  and  one  is  in  the  Chumbi 
Valley. 

The  first  sight  of  Tibet,  thus  seen,  is  not  without  a  somber 
interest  of  its  own.  It  is  at  once  obvious  that  the  general  level 
of  the  country  is  very  much  higher  than  that  of  Sikkim.  The 
mass  of  Chumolhari  fills  in  the  end  of  the  valley.  Glittering  in 
the  bitter  air,  it  rises  thirty-five  miles  away,  though  the  richer 
aquamarine  of  its  crevasses  can  be  seen  from  where  we  stand. 
The  ridges  and  ranges  swarm  between,  intersected  with  the 
courses  of  rivers  invisible.  All  is  bare  and  dull,  but  a  thousand 
feet  below  us  the  dripping  pines  send  their  single  spies  up  toward 
the  barren  and  unlovely  path. 

There  is  something  fascinating  about  the  very  sight  of  this 
long,  slow  line  of  burdened  men,  in  spite  of  the  miserable  cold 
that  almost  prevents  your  watching  anything.  Up  there,  high 
above  the  most  venturesome  pines,  where  only  the  dwarf  rhodo- 
dendron, two  or  three  inches  high,  survives  here  and  there  be- 
neath the  shelter  of  a  friendly  rock  just  piercing  the  two-inch 
snow  that  fell  last  night,  the  laden  team  crawls  slowly  to  the  top. 
The  green  and  golden  lichen  spreads  over  the  dull  and  bitter 
crags  of  gneiss,  and  under  foot  the  tense  stiff  bents  of  frozen 
grass  prick  themselves  scantily  through  the  dirty  ice.  Up  hither 
the  coolies  thrust  their  way  painfully,  and  the  thick,  duffle-clad 
figures  in  a  long  line  zigzag  up  the  side  of  the  pass,  swaying 
from  side  to  side  under  their  burdens  as  they  gain  a  bare  foot- 


58  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

hold  on  the  blunt  rocks;  the  sky  is  overcast  and  this  vivid  cold 
searches  through  everything,  in  spite  of  the  thick  winter  cloth- 
ing which  has  been  liberally  supplied.  Butterflies,  birds,  and 
beasts  are  alike  fled.  Only  a  lammergeier  floats  still  in  the  air 
some  300  feet  below,  wheeling  slowly  with  motionless  wings, 
and  far  down  in  the  gulf  there  is  a  scurry  of  lavender  snow 
pigeons.  The  pass  itself  is  nothing  but  elemental  rock,  and  the 
Indian  file  of  men  drops  down  again  as  quickly  as  it  can  into  the 
stiller  cold  of  the  sheltered  side  of  the  peak.  One  goes  down. 
At  first  lichen  and  stunted  moss  alone  mask  the  coarseness  of  the 
huge  boulders ;  lower  down  the  scarlets  and  reds  of  the  barberry 
and  a  few  stunted  bushes  of  feathery  juniper,  as  high  as  one's 
hand,  come  up  as  forerunners  of  the  fast-thickening  vegetation 
of  the  gorge.  Two  thousand  feet  below  the  pass,  while  one  is 
still  sliding  and  scrambling  over  frozen  washes  of  curving  ice 
across  the  track,  the  silver  firs  and  stunted  junipers  crowd  beside 
the  zigzag  path  that  still  leaps  from  rock  to  rock.  Of  under- 
growth there  is  but  little,  even  when  the  mountain-ash  and  silver 
fir  have  given  place  to  the  Pinus  excelsa  and  a  silver-gray  variety 
of  the  deodora,  and  the  air  is  heavy  with  warm  resin.  Behind, 
fifteen  miles  away  on  the  Sikkim  side  of  the  pass,  the  dull  roar 
of  blasting  may  perhaps  remind  one  of  the  wide  ten-foot  road 
which  the  Government  are  still  intending  to  throw  across  this 
terrible  sierra. 

The  coolies  still  crawl  upward  and  over.  Compared  with 
the  western  face,  the  descent  of  the  Natu  la  on  the  Tibetan 
side  is  a  comparatively  easy  thing.  The  road  soon  runs  at  a 
gentle  gradient  over  the  spurs  which  buttress  the  precipices  that 
frown  over  Sikkim,  and  after  a  mile  you  may,  if  you  come  in 
winter,  get  thankfully  upon  your  pony  once  again.  The  track 
runs  straight  and  level  along  the  mountain-side,  and  you  may 
wonder  why  the  engineers  have  corduroyed  the  road.     There 


CROSSING   THE   HIMALAYAS  59 

seems  so  little  reason  for  this  fearful  waste  of  time  and  timber. 
But  if  it  is  your  luck  to  retrace  your  steps  when  the  rains  are 
in  full  swing,  you  will  wonder  no  longer. 

There  is  no  end  to  the  devilish  ingenuity  with  which  Nature 
has  strewn  this  path  with  obstacles.  That  one  which  hitherto 
we  had  hardly  found  was  waiting  us  after  all.  And  you  may 
have  to  get  wearily  off  your  pony  once  again  to  pick  your  way 
unsteadily  from  rock  to  rock,  in  a  sea  of  mud  which  defies  de- 
scription. Two  feet  deep,  black,  stinking,  slippery,  your  pony 
has  to  make  the  best  of  it.  And  once  in  every  ten  paces  you  too 
will  sound  it  to  the  knee.  Not  a  mere  stretch  of  a  quarter  of  a 
mile  is  this  disheartening  morass;  before  the  transverse  logs 
were  laid  there  were  five  miles  of  this  unending  slide  and  slip 
and  splash  to  be  overcome.  Corduroy  itself  is  no  luxurious 
floor.  Your  beast  will  like  it  only  a  little  better  than  the  quag- 
mire he  has  scrambled  through.  The  wood  is  slippery,  and 
though  the  ribbing  of  the  road  prevents  a  long  slide  it  insures 
a  short  one  at  almost  every  step. 

The  path  on  the  bare  mountain-side,  bad  as  it  was,  is  better 
than  that  which  threads  the  close  pine  trunks  of  Champi-tang. 
Torrential  rain  may  wash  a  path  away,  but  nothing  so  entirely 
ruins  a  made  track  as  the  drip  from  trees.  There  is  something 
about  the  slow  persistence  that  does  harm  which  even  a  water- 
spout could  not  compass.  And  if  by  this  time  you  have  any 
spirit  of  curiosity  left  in  you,  you  may  notice  that  the  corduroy 
work  upon  the  road  coincides  with  those  very  parts,  which  at 
the  first  blush  you  might  consider  most  protected  by  foliage 
overhead.  It  is  getting  late  now  in  the  afternoon,  and  you  will 
thank  your  good  fortune  in  having  as  companions  unfeeling  men 
who  made  you  rise  at  five.  The  worst  is  over,  and  you  can 
stumble  along  at  more  than  two  miles  an  hour.  The  hill-sides 
opposite  become  clothed  with  forestry,  and  after  an  hour  or  two 


6o  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

you  will  find  yourself  before  the  blazing  hearth  of  the  luxurious 
bungalow  at  Champi-tang. 

On  the  following  day,  you  go  down  to  Chumbi.  You  make 
your  way  along  a  greasy  path,  now  passing  underneath  a  lonely 
little  shrine,  half  hidden  by  the  trees,  now  emerging  among  the 
bared,  charred  trunks  of  the  pine  army  which  was  burned  three 
years  ago.  Doubling  the  spurs  again  and  again,  you  make  your 
way  at  a  fairly  level  altitude,  until  a  Bhutia-tent  marks  the 
division  between  the  official  main  road  by  the  Kag-ue  monastery, 
and  the  short  cut  over  the  hills  to  Chema.  Down  the  first  you 
elect  to  go.  The  road  is  longer,  but  the  road  is  easier,  and  you 
have  not  yet  acquired  either  the  mental  attitude  or,  what  is 
more  important,  the  muscles  of  a  hill  man.  Through  junipers 
and  birch  you  pass  out  to  the  bare  hill-side,  and  descend  sharply 
to  the  monastery. 

This  is  a  curious  place.  It  is  the  most  important  religious 
community  in  the  valley.  It  is  a  special  favorite  with  the  Dalai 
Lama,  and  when,  some  years  ago,  owing  to  certain  scandals 
which  were,  unfortunately,  too  well  known  in  the  valley  to  be 
disregarded,  the  older  monastery  in  these  parts  was  broken  up, 
the  lamas  were  permitted  to  build  a  far  more  magnificent  tem- 
ple within  a  mile  of  the  scene  of  their  misdoings.  Service  is 
going  on  as  you  enter  the  courtyard.  They  will  pay  no  attention 
to  you  if  you  go  into  the  shrine  itself — that  is,  the  monks  will 
not.  Only  the  acolyte  children  will  gaze,  round-eyed,  at  the  un- 
known white  men,  while  their  mouths  still  move  with  the  shrill 
and  simple  cadence  of  the  chanted  office.  Now  and  again  a 
bell  is  rung,  or  a  drum  beaten  with  the  sickle-shaped  stick.  Once 
in  a  while  the  long,  eight-foot  trumpets  emit  a  ponderous  blast 
of  discordance.  Tea  is  handed  round  continually,  and  the  chant 
pauses  now  and  again  to  allow  the  presiding  lama  to  monotone 
a  passage  from  the  Buddhist  scriptures.  At  the  further  end, 
in  the  darkness,  lighted  by  the  pale  beads  of  butter-lamps,  sits 


CROSSING   THE   HIMALAYAS  61 

the  gilded   image  of  Gautama,   half-hidden  by   "  katags "   or 
scarfs. 

Leaving  the  monastery,  the  track  flings  itself  down  the  steep 
sides  of  a  hollow,  and  at  last  comes  out  upon  the  good  and 
welcome  level  of  the  Chumbi  road.  We  have  almost  reached 
the  end  of  the  first  stage  of  the  long  journey. 


CHAPTER  IV 

THE  TIBETANS  OF  THE  CHUMBI  VALLEY 

BEFORE  the  coming  of  this  Mission,  no  white  man  had  ever 
seen  the  Chumbi  Valley. 
The  women  of  Chumbi  think  a  good  deal  of  themselves,  though 
to  the  eye  of  the  stranger  there  seems  very  little  distinction  be- 
tween the  stunted  and  dirty  little  people  of  one  part  of  Tibet  and 
those  of  another.  The  head-dress  used  by  them  is  the  usual  tur- 
quoise-studded aureole  of  the  province  of  Tsang.  The  outer  and 
possibly  only  garment  *  is  of  the  same  very  thick  crimson  dun 
cloth,  tied  round  the  waist  with  a  string  and  fastened  at  the  throat  . 
with  a  plain  yoke-like  hasp  of  silver.  This  dress  is  generally 
patched,  until  it  is  difficult  to  say  with  certainty  which  part  of  it 
is  the  original  garment,  and  it  is  of  course  open  to  more  objec- 
tions than  the  presence  of  inanimate  dirt  alone  presents.  The 
shoes  worn  reach  up  to  the  knee,  and  are  made  of  the  same  dark 
red  cloth,  variegated  over  the  instep  by  a  streak  of  scarlet  extend- 
ing down  to  the  toes.  Here  the  plain  tanned  yak  hide  incases  it. 
These  shoes  are  not  uncomfortable,  though  the  entire  absence  of 
any  heel  makes  it  necessary  that  a  little  practice  in  them  should 
precede  a  long  or  a  difficult  tramp,  otherwise  the  Achilles  tendon  " 
is  apt  to  make  a  violent  protest.  In  face,  the  men  and  women  are 
strangely  alike.  Neither  here  nor  elsewhere  in  Tibet  do  the  men 
grow  mustaches  or  beards ;  the  utmost  that  one  ever  sees  is  a  thin 
fringe  of  scanty  hair  marking  the  lips  or  pointing  the  chin  of  a 

*  These  ladies  seem  to  use  their  outer  dress  as  their  dessous  when  torn  and 
worn  beyond  decent  use.  A  girl  at  Bolka  had  apparently  two  such  under- 
garments. 

62 


THE  TIBETANS  OF  THE  CHUMBI  VALLEY       63 

high  official.  It  cannot  be  claimed  that  Tibetan  ladies  look  beau- 
tiful. It  is,  of  course,  difficult  to  say  what  the  effect  would  be  if 
some  of  them  were  thoroughly  washed.  As  it  is,  they  exist  from 
the  cradle,  or  what  corresponds  to  it,  to  the  stone  slab  on  which 
their  dead  bodies  are  hacked  to  pieces,  without  a  bath  or  even  a 
partial  cleansing  of  any  kind.  One  could  imagine  that  they  were 
of  a  tint  almost  as  dark  as  a  Gurkha,  but  this  is  by  no  means  the 
case.  In  spite  of  the  dirt,  wherever  the  bodies  are  protected  by 
clothes  the  skin  remains  of  an  ivory  whiteness,  which  is  indis- 
tinguishable from  that  of  the  so-called  white  races.  At  times 
also  accident,  perhaps  in  the  shape  of  rain,  has  the  effect  of  re- 
moving an  outer  film  of  dirtiness,  and  then  it  is  quite  clear  that 
Tibetan  girls,  until  they  are  two  or  three  and  twenty,  have  a 
complexion.  Of  course  the  habit  of  the  race,  of  besmearing  the 
forehead,  cheeks,  and  nose  with  dark  crimson  kutch,  which 
blackens  as  it  dries,  militates  against  any  display  of  beauty.  The 
origin  of  this  strange  custom  is,  like  most  facts  and  theories  about 
Tibet,  the  subject  of  hot  dispute.  Some  contend  that  it  origi- 
nally marked  the  married  women  only:  some  will  have  it,  and 
there  seems  some  evidence  in  their  favor,  that  this  disfigurement 
was  intentionally  introduced  in  order  to  save  the  ladies  of  Tibet 
from  the  sin  of  vanity,  and  incidentally,  also,  to  reduce  the 
chances  of  young  men's  infatuation.  The  third  and  more  prosaic 
explanation  is  that  it  is  done  to  mitigate  the  glare  of  the  sun  from 
rock  and  snow.^  This  would  be  a  more  convincing  reason,  if 
the  kutch  was  actually  worked  into  the  hollow  of  the  eye,  and  on 
the  eyelid ;  but  these  are  left  unstained.  Two  other  reasons,  also 
of  a  flatly  contradictory  nature,  have  been  suggested  to  explain 
this  custom  of  Tibetan  women,  but  there  does  not  seem  any  ne- 
cessity to  accept  either  view.    One  thing  must  in  common  fairness 

*  Mr.  Talbot  Kelly  recommends  essentially  the  same  thing  for  use  against 
the  glare  of  Egypt.  The  Sikkim  coolies  pull  their  hair  over  their  eyes  in  a 
curtain  for  the  same  purpose. 


64  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

be  said,  and  that  is,  that  nowhere  in  the  world  will  you  find  such 
exquisite  teeth  in  men,  women,  and  children  alike  as  in  Tibet, 
though  it  is  beyond  dispute  certain  that  no  tooth-brush,  or  any 
form  of  cleansing  them,  has  ever  been  practised,  or  indeed  known, 
from  one  end  of  the  country  to  the  other. 

Prayer  flags  in  Tibet  are  the  commonest  possible  means  of  in- 
vocation. The  "  airy  horses  "  printed  upon  long  perpendicular 
strips  of  limp  tarlatan,  or  rather  butter  muslin,  about  twelve 
inches  wide,  are  nailed  to  the  pole,  from  twenty  to  thirty  feet  in 
height.  These  fringes  stand  out  in  the  wind,  till  they  are  frayed 
back  to  the  very  nails,  or  tear  themselves  loose  in  ragged  stream- 


ers.* 


Among  the  private  convictions  of  Sir  Isaac  Newton  was  the 
singular  belief  that  prayers  went  to  Heaven  by  vibration.  It  was 
not,  perhaps,  one  of  the  most  demonstrable  theories  of  that  great 
man,  and  very  little  stress  has  ever  been  laid  upon  this  curious 
idea,  though  I  believe  it  underlies  the  almost  universal  use  of  in- 
cense as  a  symbol  of  prayer.  But  your  pious  Tibetan  would  have 
understood  Sir  Isaac  in  a  moment;  to  him,  movement  is  prayer, 
and  no  inert  petition  finds  its  way  to  the  ear  of  the  gods.  The 
turning  of  a  prayer-wheel,  whether  in  the  hand,  or  by  the  agency 
of  water,  wind,  or  fire,  is  the  best  illustration  of  this.  The  pere- 
grinations round  the  Ling-kor  or  the  Jo-kang  at  Lhasa  are  other 
examples  of  an  acted  prayer.  Attention  is  not  necessary;  merit 
is  acquired,  whether  the  mind  be  fixed  or  not,  and  Claudius'  tru- 
ispi,  "  Words  without  thoughts  never  to  Heaven  go,"  would  be 
scouted  as  foolishness  by  the  piety  of  this  land.  Nor  would  the 
Lamas  be  inclined  to  agree  with  the  counsel  which  deprecates 
repetition,  for  some  of  the  larger  prayer-wheels  contain  the  sacred 
mantra,  "  Om  mani  padme  hum,"  repeated  to  an  extent  that  al- 
most defies  calculation.    Very  thin  sheets  of  paper  made  from  the 

*In  Lhasa  itself  a  peculiarity  is  noticeable.    The  prayer  flags  there 
are  tightly  bound  in  to  the  pole. 


THE  TIBETANS  OF  THE  CHUMBI  VALLEY       65 

Daphne  Cannabina,  as  thin  as  Oxford  India  paper,  are  printed 
with  symbols  of  this  invocation  as  closely  as  the  space  permits. 
Many  hundreds  of  sheets  of  this  paper  are  compressed  into  every 
inch  within  the  great  revolving  tub.  The  contents  remain  in  a 
tight,  hard  block,  even  if  the  outer  covering  is  broken.  A  prayer- 
wheel  eight  feet  in  height  may  contain  this  same  mantra  about  a 
hundred  million  times.  Every  revolution  of  a  wheel  like  this  adds 
considerably,  therefore,  to  the  credit  side  of  the  Tibetan's  account 
in  Heaven.  So  easy  is  it  to  add  a  thousand  billion  or  so  of  these 
ejaculations  to  one's  account  in  a  five  minutes'  visit  to  the  near- 
est gompa,  that  the  plain  mind  of  the  Occidental  wonders  why,  if 
all  this  is  really  necessary,  the  Tibetan  does  not  accumulate  his 
merit  in  this  easy  fashion,  instead  of  wandering  all  day  long,  un- 
economically  twisting  in  his  hand  the  comparatively  inefficacious 
hand  wheel,  or  moving  the  still  less  expeditious  lips.  But  here 
we  soon  learn  to  leave  behind  us  all  the  logic  of  the  West.  A 
thing  is  so  in  Tibet  because  it  has  always  been  so ;  research  is  not 
encouraged ;  progress  is  a  form  of  heresy. 

Galinka  lies  at  the  foot  of  the  great  dam  which  once  fell  across 
the  waters  of  the  Ammo  chu  and  made  a  lake  where  now  the 
plain  of  Lingma-tang  stretches  itself.  This  is  a  curious  feature 
of  the  valley.  One  climbs  200  feet  up  from  Galinka  by  the  side 
of  the  sprawling  torrent  and  at  last  reaches  a  piece  of  turf  about 
a  mile  and  a  half  long,  a  quarter  of  a  mile  wide,  and  as  flat  as 
Lord's.  In  the  rainless  months  the  turf  grows  here  short  and 
thick,  and  provides  the  best  grazing  of  all  the  valley.  It  would 
be  easy  to  make  some  arrangement  for  the  draining  of  the  plain 
in  the  rains,  but,  as  it  is,  from  the  end  of  July  onward,  Lingma- 
tang  is  a  mere  swamp,  overgrown  indeed  with  luxuriant  vegeta- 
tion and  bright  flowers,  but,  from  a  more  practical  point  of  view, 
a  useless  nuisance.  Through  this  plain,  in  the  curves  of  a  tortured 
worm,  the  Ammo  chu  winds  and  rewinds  itself.  When  the  ex- 
pedition first  crossed  the  plain  the  rocky  sides  of  the  containing 


66  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

hills  were  bare  of  all  but  the  seemingly  dead  trunks  of  birch,  and 
the  hardly  more  lifelike  blackish-green  of  the  pines.  A  scanty 
and  thorny  brush  filled  in  the  interstices  among  the  boulders  just 
where  the  steep  hills  stood  knee-deep  in  the  plain,  but  that  was 
all.  The  "  vleis  "  of  South  Africa,  which  have  been  formed  in 
a  similar  manner,  will  offer  the  best  suggestion  of  the  exactly 
perfect  surface — then  covered  with  brown,  burnt  grass,  cropped 
short  by  sheep,  and,  as  we  once  discovered,  by  shao  also.  At  the 
southern  end  of  the  valley  the  forest  comes  down  close  to  the 
plain,  and  one  leaves  behind  the  treeless  level  to  be  engaged  at 
once  among  the  junipers  and  pines  of  the  last  stage  of  vegetation 
which  at  this  great  altitude  the  valley  of  the  Ammo  chu  can  show. 
The  thorny  shrubs  cease  as  if  by  magic  when  the  road  has  reached 
the  upper  part  of  the  rocky  slope  which  has  to  be  scaled  before 
the  road  begins  again  an  even  ascent  by  the  side  of  the  stream. 
The  silver  firs  come  down  thickly  to  the  very  edge  of  the  water, 
and  under  their  shade  the  track  runs  between  moss-covered  rocks 
some  twenty  feet  above  the  water,  which  here  falls  in  a  torrent 
from  boulder  to  boulder,  pausing  only  when  delayed  by  the  frost, 
which  hangs  great  combs  of  ice  from  every  gray  dead  fir  athwart 
the  stream.  Junipers  and  a  few  twenty-foot  rhododendron  trees 
take  advantage  of  the  shelter  of  a  turn  in  the  range  of  hills  just 
where  the  stone  breast-work  of  Tong-shong  crosses  the  road. 
The  heavy,  resinous  smell  of  the  pines  harmonizes  well  with  the 
carpet  of  dark-green  moss  which  sprawls  at  will  over  the  seamed 
rocks  of  Indian  red  and  sienna.  The  mountains,  2,000  feet  over 
our  heads,  barely  allow  the  road  to  squeeze  between  their  gigantic 
Symplegades.  Five  miles  beyond  the  end  of  Lingma-tang  the 
road  crosses  the  torrent  twice  and  one  comes  out  over  a  stony 
patch  and  a  carpet  of  brown  pine  needles  into  a  little  clearing, 
where  a  heavy  fall  of  grayish-black  granite  warns  the  traveler  of 
the  strange  characteristics  of  the  road  for  the  next  two  or  three 
miles. 


THE  TIBETANS  OF  THE  CHUMBI  VALLEY       ^7 

Some  years  ago — ninety  or  a  hundred,  perhaps,  if  one  may 
judge  by  the  size  of  the  largest  of  the  trees  growing  among  the 
debris — a  Himalayan  convulsion  shattered  vertically  the  eastern 
side  of  the  hills  which  hem  in  the  tumbling  river  on  the  west. 
They  now  stand  stark,  austere,  and  perpendicular  a  thousand  feet 
above  the  roadway  and  the  stream.  No  trees  crown  their  sum- 
mits, not  a  bush  can  find  root-hold  on  their  granite  faces.  But  at 
their  feet  a  long,  continuous  buttress  of  granite,  torn  rawly  from 
its  matrix  by  the  shock,  forms  a  ramp  200  feet  in  height  below  the 
crannies  and  clefts  of  the  gigantic  curtain  overhead.  This  ramp 
is  composed  of  boulders  varying  in  size  from  mere  splinters  of 
granite,  which  have  been  used  wherewith  to  metal  the  bridle-path, 
to  one  great  giant  at  Ta-karpo  or  "  White  Rock."  This  is  one 
of  the  most  prominent  features  of  the  Chumbi  Valley.  There  are 
in  it  over  70,000  cubic  feet  of  stone  above  the  level  of  the  debris 
over  which  the  road  goes,  and  on  which  the  Chinese  post  has  been 
built.i 

The  name  of  this  rock  must  have  been  given  years  ago. 
When  this  granite  is  newly  exposed  to  the  air  it  is  of  a  vivid, 
crystalline  whiteness.  Such  granite  is  not,  perhaps,  to  be  found 
elsewhere  in  the  world.  For  not  only  is  it  incomparable  in 
color,  but  its  hardness  almost  defies  dynamite;  the  explosion  of 
the  charge  does  not  cleave  the  boulders,  it  merely  breaks  out 
great  craters  from  the  stone.  The  stone  darkens  rapidly  on 
exposure  to  the  air,  and  the  sparkling  purity  is  soon  hidden 
under  a  film  of  dull  grayish-black.  Beside  this  sloping  terrace, 
crowned  only  with  birch  and  juniper,  the  river  rushed  between 
frozen  banks.  Sometimes  there  was  only  a  narrow  channel 
left  in  the  middle,  and  one  could  see  the  three-foot  balks  of 

^  The  use  by  the  Tibetans  of  the  stored  warmth  of  the  sun  in  these  vast 
blocks  of  stone  is  quite  intentional.  The  vegetation  immediately  surround- 
ing this  great  rock  showed  the  stimulating  power  of  the  accumulated  heat, 
slowly  surrendered  all  the  frosty  night  by  the  fallen  monster.  To  this  may 
also  be  due  the  constant  use  by  wayfarers  of  the  natural  shelters  formed  by 
hollows  under  projecting  rocks. 


68  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

ice  which  hedged  the  water  in,  and  listen  to  the  quiet  "  seethe  " 
with  which,  now  and  again,  a  thin  detached  layer  of  ice  be- 
gotten of  last  night  and  astray  upon  the  current  mounted  and 
came  to  rest  upon  the  thickening,  greenish  mass  below.  It  was 
just  like  the  prickling  crackle  of  a  glazier's  diamond.  Some- 
times the  ice  extended  from  shore  to  shore,  broken  here  and 
there  by  some  whirlpool  which  had  defied  the  cold,  or  some  spirt 
of  water  where  the  stream  flowed  too  viciously  over  a  rounded 
stone  to  be  entirely  caught  by  the  closing-in  grip  of  the  frost. 
It  was  a  wild  scene,  and  very  soon  the  limit  of  vegetation,  which 
is  here  about  13,300  feet,  was  apparent  a  little  way  up  the  hill- 
sides.   Birches  are  the  last  to  go. 

Another  sharp  climb  brings  one  to  the  last  phase  of  the 
Chumbi  Valley.  This,  indeed,  is  different  from  all  the  scenes 
through  which  we  have  passed.  A  promontory,  now  being 
avoided  by  the  work  of  pioneers,  gave  us  a  view  of  the  bare 
plain  of  Dota  ahead.  To  the  east  a  frozen  waterfall,  nearly 
a  hundred  feet  in  height,  was  the  rallying-point  of  our  attention. 
It  was  a  gigantic,  irregular  pillar  of  ribbed  ice,  through  which 
the  evening  sun  played  with  the  colors  of  a  Pacific  shallow. 
But  this  was  the  last  example  of  abruptness.  From  that  point 
till  the  Tang  la  rises  gently  beneath  the  ice-bound  crags  of 
Chumolhari,  on  all  sides  the  hills  sweep  down  gently  to  the 
stream  or  valley,  bellying,  brown,  grassy  slopes — for  all  the 
world  like  Sussex  downs  tilted  together  at  an  angle.  There 
was  not  on  all  that  waste  of  formless  and  almost  naked  rock  a 
stick  of  vegetation  a  foot  high.  Only  little  dead  bents  of  aconite 
prick  up  still  brown  and  innocent.  Nothing  else  breaks  the 
monotony  of  the  finger-long  blades  of  coarse  low-lying  grass. 
I  do  not  suppose  that  in  all  the  world  you  could  find  a  contrast 
so  great  as  that  which  meets  the  eye  at  Dota  during  your  stage 
from  Gautso  to  the  plain  below  the  pass.  From  Dota  to  the 
Tang  la,  and  indeed  on  northward  for  three  thousand  miles,  ex- 


A   MEMBER  OF   THE   EXPEDITION 
Outfitted  to  cross  the  high  passes  of  the  Himalayas  in  July 


THE  TIBETANS  OF  THE  CHUMBI  VALLEY       69 

cept  for  the  fertile  alluvial  flats  which  hem  in  the  rivers  of  south- 
ern Tibet,  this  scenery  remains  monotonous,  waterless,  heart- 
breaking. One  has  said  good-by  to  the  Himalayan  landscape  with 
a  suddenness  that  can  hardly  be  conceived,  and  from  this  point 
onward  the  track  winds  round  the  easy  curves  of  hills  or  picks 
its  way  along  the  flat,  stubbly  plains  till,  as  one  turns  the  last 
corner  beyond  Kamparab,  Phari  Jong  comes  out  from  behind 
the  last  spur  on  the  left  and  dominates  the  distance,  a  square, 
grayish  block  of  keep  and  bastion  and  parapet  commanding 
the  converging  highways  of  three  States,  and  itself  humiliated 
by  the  overhanging  10,000  feet  of  Chumolhari's  rock  and  ice. 

The  town  of  Phari  deserves  more  than  a  passing  notice.  The 
name — which  in  Tibetan  is  spelled  "  Phag-ri,"  or  the  "  pig- 
hill  " — has  been  explained  in  many  ways.  The  small  mound  on 
which  it  is  built  may,  or  may  not,  have  been  shaped  like  a  pig,  as 
the  inhabitants  say.  The  name  may  or  may  not  have  some  refer- 
ence to  the  pig  goddess  who  is  re-incarnated  by  the  shores  of  the 
Lake  of  Palti  as  the  Dorje  Phagmo — the  Abbess  of  Samding. 
There  is  a  third  explanation,  which  the  lamas  of  the  monastery  of 
Chat-sa,  four  miles  away  to  the  north,  say  is  self-evident,  but 
of  that  later.  The  Jong  itself  is  clearly  of  Chinese-plus-Euro- 
pean construction.  Its  date,  as  ascertained  by  papers  at  Lhasa, 
was  said  by  the  two  Jong-pens,  or  fort  commandants,  to  be 
about  1500  A.D. ;  it  is,  indeed,  impossible  to  assign  it  to  a  date 
later  than  1600,  and  the  assertion  of  the  custodians  may  well 
be  true.  A  well-constructed  stone  parapet  eighteen  feet  high, 
with  corner  bastions,  surmounts  a  low  hill  about  twenty  feet 
in  height.  Above  this,  occupying  the  center  of  the  hill,  stands 
the  keep,  about  fifty  feet  in  height  and  a  hundred  and  twenty 
wide,  of  several  stories,  and  irregularly  bastioned,  or  rather 
buttressed.  The  fort  lies  square  to  the  points  of  the  compass, 
each  side  of  the  parapet  being  about  no  yards  in  length.  The 
peculiar  features  in  its  construction  conclusively  prove  that  the 


( 


70  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

place  was  built  in  unreasoning  imitation  of  some  European 
model,  for  the  little  machicolated  galleries  which  bestraddle 
the  corners  of  the  outer  bastions  are  entirely  useless.  Nothing 
could  be  dropped  from  them,  as  they  dominate  precisely  the 
points  at  which  no  sane  commander  would  deliver  an  attack. 
Moreover,  they  are  of  the  flimsiest  construction,  and,  at  present 
at  any  rate,  do  not  even  possess  floors.  Inside,  the  Jong  is  dark, 
badly  constructed,  and,  to  some  extent,  positively  dangerous,  as 
the  seeming  solid  walls  are  actually  thin  skins  of  granite  ma- 
sonry filled  with  rubble.  In  many  places  one  skin  has  fallen 
and  the  interior  beams  are  supported  wholly  upon  the  other. 
Quite  recently  a  large  part  of  the  northern  wall  has  completely 
fallen.  A  certain  amount  of  armor,  both  of  iron  and  bamboo, 
was  found  in  the  Jong,  but  every  weapon  of  modern  construction 
had  been  carefully  removed  to  the  north  or  buried. 

It  is,  however,  the  town  of  Phari  which  will  remain  longest 
in  the  memory  of  those  who  have  seen  it  but  once.  The  head- 
quarters mess  of  the  escort  to  the  Mission  included  several  men 
whose  experience  of  the  outlying  places  of  the  world  it  would 
be  difficult  to  equal  round  another  table.  But  by  common  con- 
sent Phari  was  the  filthiest  town  on  earth.  This  is  a  charge 
not  infrequently  made  against  other  towns,  so  it  may  be  worth 
while  to  justify  the  right  of  Phari  to  that  bad  eminence.  First, 
let  it  be  said  in  fairness  that  there  are  more  than  a  few  reasons 
why  the  inhabitants  of  this  town  are  of  necessity  dwellers  in 
dirt.  To  begin  with,  Phari,  at  a  height  of  15,000  feet,  is  the 
highest  town  worthy  of  the  name  in  the  world.  The  cold  is 
consequently  fearful,  a  nightly  temperature  ranging  in  Feb- 
ruary rather  downward  than  upward  from  — 3°  F.,  being  often 
joined  with  a  merciless  grit-laden  cold  wind  from  the  north. 
Cold  is  admittedly  an  excuse  for  dirt,  but  it  is  not  cold  only  that 
palliates  the  filth  of  Phari.  At  this  altitude  the  least  exertion 
brings  on  breathlessness  and  apathy.    To  put  on  a  pair  of  boots 


THE  TIBETANS  OF  THE  CHUMBI  VALLEY       71 

and  gaiters  is  often  a  serious  exertion  for  the  new-comer,  and  it 
is  not,  perhaps,  to  be  expected  that  the  good  people  of  Phari  should 
go  out  of  their  way  to  secure  by  unwelcome  activity  a  sanitation 
and  cleanliness  which  appeal  to  them  as  little  as  to  other  Tibetans. 
Indeed,  any  others  of  that  uncleanly  race  would,  under  similar 
circumstances,  attain  an  equal  degree  of  dirt.  The  absence  of 
trees,  compelling  the  wretched  people  here  to  use  argol  or  dried 
yak-dung  as  their  only  fuel,  is  another  contributory  cause.  The 
heavy,  greasy  blue  fumes  of  these  fires  coat  the  interior  of  the 
squat  houses  with  a  layer  of  soot  which  it  would  be  useless 
labor  to  remove.  Unfrozen  water  is  almost  non-existent,  except 
during  the  summer,  and,  so  far  at  least  as  the  women  are  con- 
cerned, the  dirt  which  seams  their  faces  is  not  perhaps  unwel- 
come, for,  as  we  know,  custom  compels  the  disfigurement  with 
,  kutch  (or  raddle  resembling  dried  blood)  of  the  brows  and 
cheeks  of  women  in  Tibet. 

Having  thus  pleaded  the  cause,  I  have  now  to  explain  the 
results  of  this  want  of  cleanliness  upon  the  town  of  Phari. 
The  collection  of  sod-built  hovels,  one  or,  at  most,  two  stories 
in  height,  cowers  under  the  southern  wall  of  the  Jong  for  pro- 
tection against  the  wind  from  the  bitterest  quarter.  The  houses 
prop  each  other  up.  Rotten  and  misplaced  beams  project  at 
intervals  through  the  black  layers  of  peat,  and  a  few  small 
windows  lined  with  crazy  black  match-boarding  sometimes  dis- 
tinguish an  upper  from  a  lower  floor.  The  door  stands  open; 
it  is  but  three  black  planks,  a  couple  of  traverses,  and  a  padlock. 
Inside,  the  black  glue  of  argol  smoke  coats  everything.  A  brass 
cooking-pot  or  an  iron  hammer,  cleaned  of  necessity  by  use, 
catches  the  eye  as  the  only  thing  in  the  room  of  which  one  sees 
the  real  color.  A  blue  haze  fills  the  room  with  acrid  and  pene- 
trating virulence.  In  the  room  beyond,  the  meal  is  being  cooked, 
and  a  dark  object  stands  aside  as  one  enters.  It  is  a  woman, 
barely  visible  in  the  dark.    Everything  in  the  place  is  coated  and 


72  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

grimed  with  filth.  At  last  one  distinguishes  in  a  rude  cradle 
and  a  blanket,  both  as  black  as  everything  else,  an  ivory-faced 
baby.  How  the  children  survive  is  a  mystery.  It  is  the  same 
in  every  house.  Nothing  has  been  cleaned  since  it  was  made, 
and  the  square  hole  in  the  flat  roof,  which  serves  at  once  to 
admit  light  and  air,  and  to  emit  smoke,  looks  down  upon  prac- 
tically the  same  interior  in  five  hundred  hovels. 

But  it  is  in  the  streets  that  the  dirt  strikes  one  most.  Let  it 
be  said  at  once  that  in  the  best  quarter  of  the  town,  that  in  which 
the  houses  are  two-storied,  the  heaped-up  filth — dejecta  and  re- 
jecta  alike— rises  to  the  first-floor  windows,  and  a  hole  in  the  mess 
has  to  be  kept  open  for  access  to  the  door.  It  must  be  seen  to 
be  believed.  In  the  middle  of  the  street,  between  the  two  banks 
of  filth  and  offal,  runs  a  stinking  channel,  which  thaws  daily. 
In  it  horns  and  bones  and  skulls  of  every  beast  eaten  or  not  eaten 
by  the  Tibetans — there  are  few  of  the  latter — lie  till  the  dogs 
and  ravens  have  picked  them  clean  enough  to  be  used  in  the 
mortared  walls  and  thresholds.  The  stench  is  fearful.  Half- 
decayed  corpses  of  dogs  lie  cuddled  up  with  their  mangy  but 
surviving  brothers  and  sisters,  who  do  not  resent  the  scavenging 
ravens.  Here  and  there  a  stagnant  pool  of  filth  has  partially 
defied  the  warmth,  and  carrion,  verminous  rags,  and  fur- 
wrapped  bones  are  set  round  it  in  broken  yellowish  ice.  In  the 
middle  the  brown  patch  is  iridescent.  A  curdled  and  foul  tor- 
rent flows  in  the  day-time  through  the  market-place,  and  half- 
bred  yaks  shove  the  sore-eyed  and  mouth-ulcered  children  aside 
to  drink  it.  The  men  and  women,  clothes  and  faces  alike,  are 
as  black  as  the  peat  walls  that  form  a  background  to  every  scene. 
They  have  never  washed  themselves.  They  never  intend  to  wash 
themselves.  Ingrained  dirt  to  an  extent  that  it  is  impossible  to 
describe  reduces  what  would  otherwise  be  a  clear,  sallow-skinned, 
but  good-complexioned  race  to  a  collection  of  foul  and  grotesque 
negroes. 


^'^^i^^sg^T^s^s^>ssmw^i^i^^(^^9i^fWW*^^ 


ti1*^K?sWM 


THE  TWO  ABBOTS  OF  A  TIBETAN  MONASTERY 


THE  TIBETANS  OF  THE  CHUMBI  VALLEY       73 

"  Dirt,  dirt,  grease,  smoke."  Thomas  Manning's  concise  de- 
scription of  Phari  as  he  knew  it  on  the  21st  of  October,  181 1, 
holds  to  this  day,  and  the  cleaning  up  which  went  on  inside  the 
walls  of  the  great  buttressed  fort  after  our  arrival  provoked  no 
imitation  in  the  foul  streets  and  grimed  turf-built  hovels  at  its 
foot. 

And  the  disgust  of  all  this  is  heightened  by  an  ever-present 
contrast,  for,  at  the  end  of  every  street,  hanging  in  mid-air  above 
this  nest  of  mephitic  filth,  the  cold  and  almost  saint-like  purity 
of  the  everlasting  snows  of  Chumolhari — a  huge  wedge  of  ar- 
gent a  mile  high — puts  to  perpetual  shame  the  dirt  of  Phari. 

The  Jong-pens,  or  twin  commandants  of  the  fortress,  had 
trimmed  their  sails  with  some  dexterity  under  the  stress  of  this 
breeze  of  foreign  influence.  They  had  served  us  not  unfaith- 
fully, a  fact  which  they  had  doubtless  kept  from  the  knowledge 
of  those  far  Lhasan  authorities  with  whom  their  correspondence 
was  neither  confessed  nor  unknown  to  us.  For  their  reception 
of  the  English  into  the  fort — an  occupation  which  every  suc- 
ceeding week  more  fully  justified — the  two  Jong-pens  were  cere- 
monially degraded  at  Peking.  This,  however,  is  the  East.  At 
the  request  of  the  very  Power  whose  reception  had  caused  their 
disgrace,  they  were  at  once,  with  equal  formality,  reinstated 
in  their  dignities  of  the  crystal  button  and  the  backward-slant- 
ing peacock  feather — avowedly  for  services  rendered  to  the  Eng- 
lish. What  wonder  if  these  two  worthy  men  were  a  little  be- 
wildered as  to  their  duty!  Nor  was  it  clear  to  them  on  which 
side  their  bread  would  ultimately  prove  to  be  buttered.  With 
gratitude  they  accepted  the  offer  of  a  monthly  salary  of  50  rupees 
apiece  during  our  occupation  of  Phari;  with  foresight  they  de- 
clined to  accept  any  money  from  us  until  after  the  expedition 
was  over.  Asked  whether  they  believed  that  we  should  be  un- 
successful, they  smilingly  put  the  question  by.     But,  they  said. 


74  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

there  were  many  and  powerful  forts  lying  between  us  and  Gy- 
antse,  and  though  the  Pilings— they  ought  not  to  have  used  the 
word  to  us— were  beyond  question  a  mighty  race,  who  could 
foresee  the  future?  They  accepted  the  invidious  position  with 
a  good  grace,  and,  on  the  whole,  after  a  preliminary  attempt 
to  smuggle  cattle  over  the  near  Bhutanese  frontier,  they  acted 
with  apparent  integrity. 

Such  was  the  road  along  which  the  toilsome  preparations  for 
the  advance  crept  slowly  to  the  storehouses  of  Chumbi  and  Phari 
from  the  plains  of  India.  Through  all  the  tedious  months  neces- 
sitated by  this  provision  for  the  future,  Brigadier-General  Mac- 
donald,  with  the  exception  of  one  or  two  expeditions  up  and 
down  along  the  line  of  communication,  remained  at  Chumbi. 
Meanwhile,  Colonel  Younghusband,  with  the  members  of  the 
Mission,  remained  pent  up  in  the  wretched  little  houses  which 
cower  beneath  the  hills  of  Tuna  from  the  eternal  blast  which 
drives  the  grit  under  foot  along  the  open  frozen  wastes  of  Tuna. 


CHAPTER   V 

THE   FIGHT  AT   THE   WALL 

ALL  preparations  were  ready  by  the  last  week  in  March, 
±\.  and  on  the  26th  Brigadier-General  Macdonald  started 
from  Chumbi.  His  first  march  brought  him  to  the  small  wooded 
plain  of  Gautso,  where  a  strong  little  camp  had  been  maintained 
for  some  time.  It  was  the  last  halt  below  the  upper  limit  of 
trees,  and  for  the  last  time  we  enjoyed  here  an  unlimited  supply 
of  fuel.  The  next  day  the  force  pushed  on  to  Phari,  where  a 
day's  halt  was  made  to  compose  the  column  finally  for  the  ad- 
vance. On  the  following  day  a  short  march  was  made  to  a 
camping-place  on  the  bare  plains  one  mile  short  of  the  Tang  la. 
It  was  a  bitterly  cold  spot,  utterly  unprotected  in  any  way,  and 
the  two  slight  valleys  which  meet  here  acted  as  funnels  for  the 
wind  that  blows  everlastingly  across  these  frozen  plains.  On 
the  29th  of  March,^  the  camp  was  struck  early.  Chumolhari 
rose  overhead,  veiling  its  vast  icy  slopes  with  thin,  half-frozen 
cloud.  From  behind  it  the  sun  rose  coldly,  forming,  by  some 
curious  series  of  accidents,  the  most  beautiful  and  complete  white 
rainbow  that  any  of  us  had  ever  seen.  There  is  something 
about  a  white  rainbow  which  is  not  entirely  different  from  the 
plumage  of  a  white  peacock.  If  you  look  closely  you  will  find 
that  the  structure  of  the  missing  bands  of  color  remains  almost 
unchanged,  and  in  this  perfect  half-circle  of  the  purest  white 
one  could  almost  imagine  the  ghostly  lines  of  division  between 
the  customary  tints.  For  twenty  minutes  it  arched  over  the 
*  Nel  mezzo  del  cammin  di  nostra  vita. 
75 


76  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

valley  running  up  westward  toward  Pahamri,  and  vanished 
slowly  as  the  long  line  of  the  expedition  moved  out  of  camp. 

It  was  a  bitter  morning;  the  promise  of  the  sun  was  betrayed, 
and,  as  we  ascended  the  last  furlongs  of  the  southern  slope,  the 
cold  came  down  upon  us  again  with  bitter  intensity.  Crossing 
the  Tang  la  into  Tibet  proper  was  a  terrible  experience.  The 
frozen  mist,  laced  with  stinging  splinters  of  ice,  was  blown  hori- 
zontally into  our  faces  by  the  wind  which  never  sleeps  over  this 
terrible  pass.  Men  and  animals  alike  were  stiff  with  an  ar- 
mor of  ice,  and  beards  and  even  eyelashes  were,  powdered  and 
hoary  with  the  fine  particles  of  frozen  mist.  It  was  difficult 
to  see  fifty  yards  away,  and  it  would  be  difficult  to  form  a  just 
idea  of  the  hardships  which  no  human  activity  can  ever  hope 
to  remove  from  the  highway  leading  on  to  Lhasa. 

Slowly  creeping  on  against  the  blizzard,  the  long  line  of  ani- 
mals and  men  moved  into  and  out  of  the  narrow  radius  of  one's 
sight,  demi-cloaked  with  ice.  About  eight  o'clock  the  sun  gath- 
ered enough  power  to  melt  the  frost  in  the  air,  and  an  hour 
later,  looking  up  from  the  mist  which  rose  like  steam  from  the 
plain,  one  could  see  the  clear  white  top  of  Chumolhari  sailing 
against  the  thin  light  clouds  of  the  upper  air.  We  had  crossed 
the  frontier.  Half  an  hour  later  the  plain  was  clear  to  the  hori- 
zon, and  we  trudged  on  against  the  wind  and  over  as  forbidding 
a  floor  as  exists  on  earth.  It  was  grit  and  pebbles  all  the  way. 
There  was  not  the  slightest  hint  of  even  the  dead  brittle  shrubs 
.  of  wormwood  that  gave  promise  of  greenery  on  the  plain  of 
Phari.  Two  streams,  hard  bound  with  ice,  lay  across  our  path, 
and  Tuna  was  not  to  be  seen  till  we  were  almost  upon  it.  When 
it  at  last  came  in  sight  it  seemed  a  strange  place,  indeed,  for 
the  residence  of  a  British  Commissioner  for  the  whole  winter. 
Backed  by  arid  sand-stone  dunes  600  or  700  feet  high,  its  only 
outlook  is  toward  the  snow-fields,  peaks,  and  glaciers  of  the 
dividing  range  between  Bhutan  and  Tibet,  culminating  to  the 


THE   FIGHT   AT   THE   WALL  -j-j 

west  in  the  gigantic  mass  of  Chumolhari.  There  had  been  no- 
thing to  do  all  the  winter.  There  was  little  game  to  shoot,  and 
the  only  walk,  unless  one  climbed  the  hills  at  the  back  of  the 
post,  was  "there  and  back  again"  across  the  accursed  frozen 
waste.  As  we  came  near,  the  houses  which  the  Mission  had 
originally  occupied  appeared.  They  are  squalid  in  the  extreme, 
and  one  could  well  understand  that  Colonel  Younghusband  and 
his  men  had  early  preferred  to  brave  the  cold  of  the  winter  in 
their  tents. 

On  our  arrival  we  had  luncheon  with  the  Mission — these  were 
the  days  before  the  stores  began  to  run  low — and  a  surprisingly 
good  luncheon  it  was.  We  heard  the  latest  news.  The  Tibetans 
had  been  watched  for  some  days;  they  had  built  a  wall  across 
the  road  at  a  point  between  six  and  seven  miles  to  the  north, 
and  there  was  no  doubt  that,  besides  the  force  (then  estimated 
at  about  a  thousand  men)  who  were  manning  this  defense, 
large  bodies  of  Tibetans  were  also  busy  on  the  other  side  of  the 
Bam  tso.  From  the  old  narratives  of  the  eighteenth  century, 
one  had  expected  to  find  this  lake  within  sight  of  Tuna,  and 
it  is  quite  clear  that  at  no  very  remote  period  Tuna  itself  was 
almost  washed  by  its  waters.  But  not  a  sign  of  them  was  now 
to  be  seen,  though  the  short  cut  to  Lhasa  through  the  La-tse 
Karo  la,  just  visible  across  the  plain,  proved  how  recently  the 
ground  had  at  any  rate  been  a  swamp  by  the  wide  curve  which 
it  took  before  it  started  northeast,  from  the  posting-station  and 
village  of  Hram.* 

A  typical  day  followed.  From  the  earliest  dawn  till  after  sun- 
set, a  piercing  wind  swept  the  camp  from  end  to  end  with  a 
liurricane  of  tingling  grit,  and  the  discomfort  of  the  men  was 
increased  by  the  device  which  Brigadier-General  Macdonald 
adopted  to  deceive  any  Tibetan  scouts  who  might  be  lurking 

^This  village  is  supposed  to  give  an  alternative  name  to  this  sheet  of  water.  It 
appears  as  the  Hramtso  on  many  maps,  but  without  any  real  justification. 


78  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

among  the  hills  which  hemmed  in  the  plain  to  the  west.  All 
tents  were  struck  and  the  men  received  strict  orders  to  con- 
ceal themselves.  Captain  Ottley,  after  a  reconnaissance  with 
his  mounted  infantry,  reported  that  the  Tibetans  had  tempora- 
rily retired  from  their  wall,  and  from  the  string  of  sangars  which 
led  upward  from  its  western  end  over  the  spurs  of  the  neigh- 
boring hills.  But  as  they  had  returned  in  full  force  by  the 
morning  of  the  31st,  it  is  more  probable  that  they  were  driven 
away,  not  in  any  belief  that  the  Mission  had  retreated,  but 
simply  because  even  the  Tibetans  found  the  discomfort  of  the 
day  unbearable. 

At  twenty  minutes  past  eight  on  the  31st  the  column  moved 
out.  About  a  mile  and  a  quarter  of  the  road  ran  eastward  im- 
mediately under  the  high  spur  to  which  I  have  referred.  Then, 
turning  sharply  to  the  north,  it  makes  its  way  five  miles  to  the 
little  promontory  and  ruined  house  between  which  the  road 
runs.  Here,  as  we  could  see  two  miles  away,  the  Tibetans  had 
built  their  defenses.  On  the  plain  itself,  the  wall  ran  from  the 
spur  to  the  house,  constructed  in  the  shape  of  four  redans  with 
narrow  openings  between  them.  On  the  left  hand  the  hills, 
grassless  and  stony,  rose  steadily  until  the  saddle  joined  the  two- 
thousand-foot  ridge  three  miles  away  to  the  west.  Here  there 
were  seven  or  eight  sangars.  But  to  our  right  a  clear  space 
of  three  thousand  yards  of  level  plain  stretched  between  the  end 
of  their  poor  little  defenses  and  the  nearest  swamp  bordering 
the  far  but  just  visible  waters  of  the  lake.  The  fatuity  of  the 
Tibetan  scheme  of  defense  would,  one  thinks,  have  been  manifest 
to  a  child.  No  attempt  whatever  to  block  this  space  was  made. 
The  truth  is  that  the  whole  project  had  been  conceived  in  Lhasa. 
The  authorities  there  were  guided  by  an  obsolete  map,  or  possibly 
by  a  mistaken  remembrance  of  the  locality,  and  the  general  who 
came  to  conduct  operations  had  no  authority  to  select  another 
field  for  his  defense.    The  fact  that  the  lake  had  retreated  about 


THE   FIGHT  AT   THE   WALL  79 

two  miles  from  its  ancient  shore  was  a  matter  of  which  the 
lamas  in  the  capital  were  either  ignorant  or  careless. 

We  tramped  steadily  across  the  plain — a  mere  continuation 
of  the  Tuna  plateau,  frozen  deep,  and  barely  supporting  the 
scanty  growth  of  thistles  that  pricked  up  here  and  there  through 
the  patches  of  still  lying  snow.  Everything  under  foot  or  in  the 
distance  was  gray  and  colorless.  You  will  understand  more 
clearly  the  scene  of  the  coming  incident  if  you  will  remember 
the  bitter  frost-laden  south  wind  blowing  all  day  with  increas- 
ing strength  beneath  a  hard  ash-gray  sky. 

Just  when  the  Tibetan  wall  had  become  clearly  visible  in 
the  distance,  a  messenger,  riding  forward  in  haste,  announced 
the  coming  of  the  leading  men  of  the  defending  force.  The 
Lheding  Depen  himself  was  in  the  field,  and  he,  accompanied  by 
his  brother  general  from  Shigatse,  the  late  Commandant  of 
Phari,  and  Gesur  Yeshe  Wang-gyuk  (the  representative  of  the 
great  Ga-den  monastery),  ambled  quickly  across  the  plain,  and 
an  informal  conference  was  held  between  the  military  and  po- 
litical chiefs  on  either  side.  It  was  merely  a  repetition  of  the 
same  old  story.  Coached  from  Lhasa,  the  delegates  had  no 
power,  if,  indeed,  they  had  the  wish  or  saw  the  necessity,  to 
say  anything  but  the  old  parrot-cry,  "  Go  back  to  Yatung.'* 
As  Colonel  Younghusband  himself  reminded  them,  this  obsti- 
nacy had  served  the  Tibetans  in  good  stead  for  fifteen  years. 
Hitherto  it  had  always  succeeded;  how  then  were  they  to  realize 
that  at  last  the  British  Government  was  in  earnest?  After 
twenty  minutes  of  excited  but  fruitless  discussion,  carried  on 
through  the  interpretation  of  Captain  O'Connor— at  such  times 
the  most  immovably  patient  of  men— the  small  durbar  was 
broken  up  and  the  more  important  of  the  Tibetans  cantered  back 
to  their  defenses  in  a  cloud  of  dust.  One  or  two  only  endeavored, 
by  violent  gesticulation  and  shouting  all  together,  to  secure  the  re- 
treat of  the  English  commissioner.    O'Connor,  though  he  was  be- 


So        ■  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

ing  jostled  and  ridden  off  ten  times  a  minute,  retained  his  compo- 
sure, explaining  again  and  again  that  the  advance  must  now 
continue,  and  that  Colonel  Younghusband  could  listen  to  no- 
thing before  Gyantse  was  reached.  At  last  they  were  made  to 
understand,  and  shouting  excitedly  to  each  other  they,  too, 
scampered  away  on  their  stout  little  ponies.  It  was  a  curious 
incident — the  impassive  non  possumus  which  Younghusband  re- 
turned to  the  heated  declamations  of  the  two  senior  delegates; 
•the  gay  yellow  and  green  coats  of  the  generals  from  Lhasa  and 
Shigatse;  the  various  head-dresses;  the  purple  and  blue  of  the 
robes;  the  strange  forked  guns  embossed  with  turquoise  and 
coral;  the  richly  worked  sword  hilts;  the  little  gray  and  bay 
ponies,  saddle-clothed  with  swastika-patterned  stuffs  and  gay 
with  filigree  brass  headbands  and  wide  molded  iron  stirrups 
— all  these  things  straight  from  the  sacred  and  forbidden  city 
possessed  a  new  and  intense  interest  for  all  of  us. 

There  was  no  doubt  about  it ;  the  Tibetans  intended  to  defend 

'  their  walls,  and  this  created  a  most  unpleasant  predicament. 

-  Acting  upon  Colonel  Younghusband's  instructions,  the  General 
ordered  that  not  a  shot  was  to  be  fired  until  the  enemy  had  be- 
gun. This,  in  other  words,  meant  that  our  men  were  to  forego 
■every  advantage  which  discipline  and  modern  weapons  conferred 
upon  them.  At  the  worst,  it  meant  that  they  were  obliged  to 
march  straight  up  to  sangars,  held  by  men  equipped  with  firearms 
of  unknown  strength,  and  that,  not  only  were  they  to  suffer  a 
.possibly  destructive  volley  before  opening  fire,  but  that  they 
might  even  be  compelled  to  carry  on  the  combat  at  a  range  so 
short  and  from  ground  so  coverless  that  the  Tibetans  would  en- 
joy other  advantages  besides  that  of  sheer  numbers,  which  they 
already  possessed.  Still,  the  thing  was  done.  It  was  such  a  pol- 
icy as  has  probably  had  no  parallel  since  the  days  of  the  Old 
Guard  at  Fontenoy,  and  it  is  more  to  the  credit  of  Indian  disci- 
•plme  than  English  readers  may  realize  that  not  a  man,  Gurkha 
^r  Sikh,  disobeyed  the  order  all  the  day. 


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THE   FIGHT   AT   THE   WALL  8i 

The  scene  was  a  strange  one.  Out  toward  the  lake  a  thin  ex- 
tended line  was  pushed  forward,  far  outflanking  the  wall  and 
entirely  commanding  the  line  of  the  Tibetans'  retreat.  Mean- 
while, the  23d  Pioneers  and  the  8th  Gurkhas  were  slowly  clearing 
the  hills  on  the  left,  making  each  sangar  disgorge  its  holders  one 
after  the  other.  It  was  done  in  silence,  and  almost  with  good- 
humor;  but  there  was  a  hush  of  suspense  among  the  two  staffs 
out  in  the  plain  who  were  watching  with  straining  eyes  the  slow 
progress  of  the  khaki  dots  on  the  hillsides  two  miles  away.  At 
any  moment  a  shot  might  fire  the  powder  magazine,  and  it  was 
not  till  the  last  of  the  hundreds  of  gray-coated  figures  had  slowly 
come  down  to  the  wall  that  the  officers  shut  up  their  field-glasses 
and  moved  on  to  where  the  work  of  disarmament  was  just  begin- 
ning. The  sense  of  an  insecurely  leashed  anger  which  might 
break  out  at  any  moment  was  suddenly  replaced  by  an  exag- 
gerated sense  of  security  and  congratulation.  The  incident 
was  regarded  as  practically  over.  The  Commissioner  and  the 
General  rode  in  together  to  the  wall  to  watch  the  huddled 
group  of  Tibetans  massed  behind  it,  covering  as  much  ground 
as  a  battalion  in  quarter  column.  On  either  side  of  them  were 
our  men.  In  front  also  the  wall  was  lined  with  the  32d  Pioneers ; 
the  line  of  retreat  alone  lay  open  to  them.  Two  hundred  others 
had  been  taken  prisoners  up  the  hillside  and  disarmed  there. 
These  remained  passive  and  thankful  spectators  of  what  was  to 
follow. 

The  main  body  of  the  Tibetans  were  bewildered,  but  not  sub- 
dued. The  whole  thing  must  have  been  incomprehensible  to  these 
poor  men.  No  order  had  been  given  to  them  to  retreat,  and  they 
seemed  to  have  acquiesced  in  their  friendly  expulsion  by  the  Gur- 
khas and  Sikh  Pioneers  in  a  dazed  way.  Gathered  together  in  a 
body,  their  enormous  superiority  in  numbers  must  have  struck 
them.  They  had  no  idea,  of  course,  of  the  advantage  which  we 
possessed,  and  there  was  a  growing  murmur  as  they  discussed  the 
matter  excitedly  behind  the  wall.    Some  of  them  then  and  there 


82  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

concocted  a  scheme  which  might  have  had  terrible  results,  and 
the  unwitting  action  of  the  Mission  leaders  almost  put  it  into 
their  power  to  carry  it  out.  As  we  afterward  found  from  the 
prisoners,  they  on  the  spot  determined  upon  nothing  less  than 
to  permit  the  advance  guard  of  the  expedition  to  go  through,  and 
then  fall  suddenly  upon  the  members  of  the  Mission  themselves. 
The  disarmament  upon  which  the  General  insisted  of  course  de- 
feated their  plans,  and  it  was  in  the  attempt  to  carry  out  this  op- 
eration that  the  storm  broke.  When  the  Sikhs  advanced  toward 
the  wall  and  began  the  work  there  was  difficulty  from  the  outset. 
In  some  cases  the  Tibetans  actually  struck  the  Pioneers ;  in  others, 
there  ensued  a  struggle  for  a  weapon ;  but  this  was  not  immedi- 
ately noticeable  from  where  Younghusband  and  the  General  were 
standing,  ten  yards  away  from  the  house  at  the  far  end  of  the 
wall.  Homer  has  given  the  explanation  of  what  then  took  place. 
Steel  of  itself,  says  he,  draws  a  man,  and  this  handling  of  weapons 
was  a  terrible  risk.    It  was  almost  exactly  noonday. 

The  Depen  of  Lhasa  himself  was  the  man  who  set  the  slum- 
bering mine  ablaze.  He  was  seated  on  his  horse  just  outside  the 
wall,  and,  exempt  himself  from  the  confiscation  of  his  arms,  he 
shouted  hysterically  to  his  men  to  resist.  They  replied  by  stoning 
the  Sikhs.  Even  then,  though  the  whole  affair  hung  in  a  slippery 
balance  indeed,  the  latter  held  themselves  in  check.  One  of  them 
advanced  to  the  head  of  the  Depen's  pony  as  the  Lhasan  General 
tried  to  move  up  toward  the  wall.  In  an  evil  moment  for  himself 
and  his  countrymen,  the  head  of  the  great  house  of  Lheding  drew 
his  pistol  and  fired,  smashing  the  Sikh's  jaw.  There  was  an 
awful  pause,  that  lasted  for  perhaps  three  seconds;  and  then  an- 
other report  broke  the  stillness.  A  jezail,  for  which  a  Sikh  and 
a  Tibetan  were  struggling,  discharged  itself  into  the  air.  But  it 
was  almost  unnoticed  in  the  sudden  yell  with  which  the  Tibetans 
hurled  themselves  with  drawn  swords  against  the  thin  line  of  Pio- 
neers leaning  up  against  the  wall.     Such  of  them  as  had  their 


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THE   FIGHT   AT   THE   WALL  83 

pieces  ready  fired  point-blank  at  the  Indian  guard,  and  then  drop- 
ping them,  flung  themselves  with  their  long,  straight,  heavy- 
swords  into  the  melee.  Two  Europeans  were  caught  inside  the 
wall,  and  both  were  wounded.  One,  Mr.  Candler,  the  correspon- 
dent of  the  Daily  Mail,  was  severely  cut  about  before  his  assail- 
ants could  be  shot  down.  The  other,  Major  Dunlop,  found  him- 
self confronted  by  a  furious  Tibetan  who  cut  his  hand  upon  his 
rifle  stock  with  a  fearful  thrust  before  Dunlop  was  able  to  kill 
him. 

By  this  time  the  storm  had  broken  in  full  intensity,  and  from 
three  sides  at  once  a  withering  volley  of  magazine  fire  crashed 
into  the  crowded  mass  of  Tibetans.  It  was  like  a  man  fighting 
with  a  child.  The  issue  was  not  in  doubt,  even  from  the  first  mo- 
ment; and  under  the  appalling  punishment  of  lead,  they  stag- 
gered, failed,  and  ran.  Straight  down  the  line  of  fire  lay  their 
only  path  of  escape.  Moved  by  a  common  impulse,  the  whole 
mass  of  them  jostling  one  against  another  with  a  curious  slow 
thrust,  they  set  out  with  strange  deliberation  to  get  away  from 
this  awful  plot  of  death.  Two  hundred  yards  away  stood  a 
sharply  squared  rock  behind  which  they  thought  to  find  refuge. 
But  the  Gurkhas  from  above  enfiladed  this  position  and  the  only 
hope  they  had  lay  in  reaching  the  next  spur  half  a  mile  away. 
Had  we  been  armed  with  their  weapons,  another  hundred  yards 
would  have  brought  them  into  safety,  even  in  the  open.  It  was 
an  awful  sight.  One  watched  it  with  the  curious  sense  of  fasci- 
nation which  the  display  of  unchecked  power  over  life  and  death 
always  exerts  when  exercised.  Men  dropped  at  every  yard. 
Here  and  there  an  ugly  heap  of  dead  and  wounded  was  concen- 
trated, but  not  a  space  of  twenty  yards  was  without  its  stricken 
and  shapeless  burden.  At  last,  the  slowly  moving  wretches— and 
the  slowness  of  their  escape  was  horrible  and  loathsome  to  us— 
reached  the  corner,  where  at  any  rate  we  knew  them  safe  from  the 
horrible  lightning  storm  which  they  had  themselves  challenged. 


84  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

All  this  was  necessary,  but  none  the  less  it  sickened  those  who 
took  part  in  it,  however  well  they  realized  the  fact.  This  was  no 
fighting  in  the  usual  sense  of  the  word.  As  soon  as  their  first 
assault  had  failed  there  was  nothing  for  the  Mission  escort  to 
fear,  except,  perhaps,  the  bullets  of  their  own  companions.  This 
was  so  real  a  danger  that  the  company  of  the  32d,  which  had 
been  sent  round  on  the  right,  as  has  been  described,  was  obliged 
to  retreat  so  as  to  leave  a  clear  field  for  the  fire  of  the 
Gurkhas  on  the  slope  of  the  spur.  The  guns  had  come  into 
action  on  the  right  as  soon  as  possible,  but  the  extraordinary 
difference  which  these  high  altitudes  make  in  the  burning  of  a 
fuse  *  nullified  their  work  to  a  very  great  extent.  I  do  not 
suppose  that  any  white  man  in  the  force  was  anything  but  sin- 
cerely glad  when  one  more  dark-coated  little  figure  disappeared 
in  safety  behind  the  distant  corner.  But  the  behavior  of  the  native 
troops  was  beyond  all  praise.  They  had  kept  their  temper  and 
their  discipline  till  it  was  almost  beyond  human  endurance.  And 
when  the  word  was  given  they  naturally  had  no  mercy  upon  an 
enemy  whose  attempt  to  equalize  matters  by  the  hand-to-hand 
use  of  vastly  superior  numbers  had  been  tried  and  failed.  It  was 
a  short  but  a  terrible  lesson. 

An  attempt  was  made  to  defend  Guru  itself,  two  miles  on,  but 
this  was  easily  defeated ;  and  after  leaving  a  small  garrison  in  the 
place,  the  column  returned  to  Tuna  against  a  bitter  wind  and  a 
darkening  sky. 

The  lesson  which  Guru  should  have  taught  was  hardly  learned 
by  the  Tibetans.  It  should  have  been  patent  to  them  from  that 
moment,  that  until  they  had  adopted  modern  weapons  and,  per- 
haps, also  had  adopted  some  of  the  methods  of  the  tribes  on  the 
northwest  frontier,  it  would  be  vain  for  them  to  attempt  to  resist 
by  force  the  progress  of  our  troops.    But  every  one  of  the  men 

*  At  the  Kara  la  a  distance  requiring  a  19  half-second  fuse  was  only  properly- 
shelled  by  reducing  the  fuse  to  9. 


A    FEW  MINUTES   LATER 
The  British  force  still  firing  at  the  retreating  Tibetans 


THE   FIGHT   AT   THE   WALL  85 

whose  report  might  have  carried  weight  in  Lhasa  was  dead,  and 
all  we  could  ever  afterward  learn  suggested  rather  that  this  com- 
plete and  utter  rout  of  the  pick  of  the  Tibetan  army  was  looked 
upon  in  Lhasa  rather  as  a  disgrace  to  the  officers  concerned  than 
as  a  final  proof  of  the  foolishness  of  opposing  us  in  the  open  field. 
We  afterward  found  that  about  fifteen  hundred  men  in  all  had 
been  detailed  for  the  defense  of  the  Tibetan  position  on  this  side. 
Another  force  of  about  one  thousand  men  was  ready  to  defend  the 
road  to  Lhasa  across  the  lake,  where  twenty-four  well-made  san- 
gars  had  been  built  across  the  road.  Another  body  of  men,  esti- 
mated variously  at  from  two  hundred  to  one  thousand,  remained 
in  Guru  when  their  companions  advanced  to  their  position.^  The 
troops  returned  to  Tuna  for  the  night,  and  before  we  advanced 
again,  it  had  been  found  necessary  to  amputate  Mr.  Candler's  left 
hand.  He  stayed  at  Tuna  some  time,  and  when  he  was  well 
enough  to  be  moved,  returned  to  Darjeeling  till  the  final  advance 
began. 

This  incident  made  it  imperative  that  the  advance  to  Gyantse 
should  be  carried  out  as  quickly  as  possible.  The  road  was  re- 
ported clear  to  the  Kala  tso.  Beyond  that,  vague  rumors  reached 
us  of  a  concentration  of  Tibetans,  generally  embroidered  with 
accounts  of  mailed  horsemen  and  other  picturesque  details,  which 
unfortunately  were  never  justified  by  the  fact. 

^  Here,  as  elsewhere,  it  seems  to  me  that  the  numbers  of  the  enemy 
have  been  overrated  in  the  official  estimates. 


CHAPTER  VI 

FORCING  THE  WAY  TO  GYANTSE 

AFTER  the  fight  at  the  Hot  Springs  the  force  remained  at 
JTx.  Tuna  for  three  days.  On  the  morning  of  the  4th  of  April 
the  Mission  and  its  escort  moved  on  to  Guru,  passing  over  the 
scene  of  the  sudden  disaster  of  the  previous  Thursday.  Every- 
where, indeed,  ugly  traces  of  the  tragedy  were  still  only  too  visi- 
ble. Everything  that  could  possibly  be  done  had  been  carried 
out  by  the  medical  officers,  and  it  is  only  fair  to  record  the  quiet 
work  among  the  Tibetan  wounded  which  was  done  on  their  own 
initiative  by  the  surgeons  connected  with  the  force.  Captains 
Walton,  Baird,  and  Kelly,  and  Dr.  Franklin  had  worked  unceas- 
ingly all  day  on  the  ist  among  the  wounded  Tibetans,  and  it  would 
be  difficult  to  describe  adequately  the  blank  amazement  with  which 
our  prisoners  regarded  this  treatment.  Mercy  to  prisoners  is  not 
a  characteristic  of  the  Oriental,  and  not  one  of  the  wretched  men 
whose  wounds  had  rendered  it  impossible  for  them  to  escape  or  to 
be  carried  away  had  the  least  idea  that  any  mercy  except  a  coup 
de  grace  would  be  extended  to  them.  They  were  tenderly  treated 
and  the  resources  of  the  expedition  were  lavishly  used.  In  the 
end  the  inevitable  occurred,  and  it  was  with  the  utmost  difficulty 
that  we  could  shake  off  from  us  the  Tibetans  whom  we  had  re- 
stored to  health  and  strength. 

The  information  that  was  received  from  these  men  was  simple 
and  always  to  the  same  effect.  They  had  no  quarrel  with  us; 
they  had  been  driven  to  the  front  unwillingly,  partly  by  the  super- 
stitious hold  which  the  Lamas  had  over  them,  partly  by  the  threat 

86 


FORCING   THE   WAY   TO    GYANTSE  87 

of  physical  punishment  which  the  hierarchy  did  not  fail. to  wield; 
and  they  realized  soon  enough  that  any  attempt  to  stop  us  was 
not  only  unnecessary  but  impossible.  At  any  rate  they  would  pre- 
fer to  take  up  any  service,  however  menial,  with  us  rather  than  go 
back  to  the  tyranny  of  their  priests.  Many  wounded  men  came 
in  from  a  distance  of  their  own  accord.  Morning  after  morning 
one  or  two  dead  figures  would  be  found  a  few  hundred  yards 
away  from  our  outposts — men  who  had  been  painfully  trying 
.  to  drag  their  broken  bodies  in  to  this  miraculous  healing  of  which 
the  fame  had  spread  far  and  wide.  It  has  often  been  said,  and 
no  doubt  said  with  some  truth,  that  the  work  that  we  then  did  to 
heal  our  wounded  enemies,  besides  sorely  depleting  our  stock  of 
bandages  and  other  surgical  necessities,  was  a  source  of  weakness 
rather  than  strength  to  the  subsequent  negotiations.  The  methods 
of  a  Genghiz  Khan  would  no  doubt  have  brought  our  Mission  to 
a  speedier  end.  But  knowledge  is  not  to  be  confounded  with 
wisdom,  and  many  of  our  Oriental  experts  have  forgotten  in  their 
experience  of  detail  that,  after  all,  the  Oriental  is  a  man.  What- 
ever may  be  the  ultimate  success  or  permanence  of  our  diplomatic 
relations  with  the  present  priestly  government  of  Tibet,  the  repu- 
tation for  magnanimity  which  we  have  secured  among  the  poor 
unlettered  peoples  of  these  uplands  will  as  a  tradition  long  out- 
live the  remembrance  of  political  success,  however  great.  Besides, 
the  thing  had  to  be  done. 

The  column  halted  at  Guru.  This  is  an  unattractive  spot,  bare 
and  wind-swept,  and  marked  only  by  a  few  disreputable  houses 
in  two  clumps,  gathered  in  each  case  round  a  house  of  more  re- 
spectable appearance.  Here  the  Chinese  "  General  "  Ma  appeared. 
But  Captain  Parr,  of  the  Chinese  Maritime  Customs,  declined  to 
recognize  his  representative  character.  On  the  morning  of  the 
5th,  the  Mission  moved  on  past  Dochen  toward  Chalu  by  the 
northern  shore  of  the  lake.  It  was  a  long  march,  and  the  narrow- 
ness of  the  shore  made  it  impossible  to  advance  in  more  than  one 


88  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

column.  Here  we  struck  into  the  heart  of  the  land  of  Bogle  and 
Turner.  What  they  wrote  130  years  ago  is  true  to  the  letter  to- 
day. The  high,  naked  spurs  which  inclose  the  plain  upon  which 
the  Bam  tso  is  now  but  a  dwindling  stretch,  frowned  upon  us  as 
we  moved  past  the  successive  openings.  Some  grazing  might 
perhaps  be  found  here  in  the  height  of  the  summer,  but  in  April 
there  is  no  blade  of  vegetation  except  the  usual  wormwood.  Di- 
vided from  the  road  by  a  wide  swamp,  the  waters  of  the  lake,  then 
partly  frozen,  were  dotted  with  the  innumerable  wild-fowl  which 
the  previous  explorers  had  reported.  Ruddy  sheldrake,  pintails, 
bar-headed  geese,  pochards,  terns,  teal,  and  wild-duck  were  all  to 
be  seen  and  it  was  easy  to  approach  within  twenty  yards  of  them. 
A  curious  thing  was  here  to  be  seen.  These  birds  undoubtedly 
migrate  annually  across  the  Himalayas  from  the  plains  of  India. 
Lower  down,  they  had  had  experience  enough  of  the  meaning  and 
danger  of  a  man's  figure.  Here  in  Tibet,  where  no  bird  had  been 
shot  since  Bogle  offended  the  susceptibilities  of  his  companions, 
they  did  not  show  the  slightest  fear  when  the  long  dusty  column 
bore  down  upon  them.  But  after  the  evening  of  the  5th,  when  ' 
shooting  was  for  the  first  time  permitted  after  our  arrival  in  camp^ 
the  change  that  came  over  the  fowl  was  strange  indeed.  In  a  mo- 
ment they  became,  and  remained,  as  shy  as  ever  they  had  been 
in  India. 

Under  foot,  on  the  cinderous  slopes,  the  only  vegetation  was 
the  hard  circular  sponges  of  saxifrage  or  the  tiny  plants  of  edel- 
weiss, no  larger  than  a  florin,  hiding  away  between  the  boulders 
and  the  stones.  Here  and  there  a  hare  scurried  away  before  the 
feet  of  the  column,  but  it  was  a  rare  break  in  the  monotony. 
Across  the  lake  to  the  east,  the  road  to  Lhasa  ran  visibly,  and 
away  to  the  south-east  could  be  seen  the  deserted  walls  and  san- 
gars  of  Hram,  which  the  enemy  had  deserted  during  the  fight  at 
Guru.    Chalu  was  reached  about  three  o'clock. 

The  village  itself  lies  half-way  between  the  two  lakes  on  the 


FORCING   THE   WAY   TO   GYANTSE  89 

borders  of  the  stream  which  flows  from  the  Bam  tso  into  the 
Kala  tso,  a  distance  of  about  three  miles.  A  halt  was  made 
just  where  this  stream  leaves  the  former  lake.  It  was  a  cold, 
pitiless  afternoon,  with  a  horizontal  sleet  blowing  and  the  prom- 
ise of  heavy  snow  that  night.  A  few  duck  were  shot  and  a  wel- 
come store  of  bhusa  was  obtained  from  Chalu.  Lu-chea  mon- 
astery was  visible  half-way  up  the  hills  to  the  east,  but  it  was 
not  visited,  except  by  a  foraging  party.  The  stream  joining  the 
two  lakes  is  traversed  by  a  long  stone  causeway,  about  a  quarter 
of  a  mile  from  the  upper  lake,  and  on  the  following  morning 
it  was  crossed  by  the  column,  who  were  to  make  only  a  short 
march  that  day.  The  road  between  the  two  lakes  runs  at  a  little 
height  above  the  stream  in  the  defile.  On  either  side  there  are 
steep  hills,  and  Chalu  occupies  the  only  level  place  beside  the 
road.  It  is  only  a  short  distance  before  the  gorge  ends  and  the 
waters  of  the  Kala  tso  are  seen.  Even  the  most  recent  map 
makers,  I  notice,  have  insisted  that  this  gorge  is  ten  miles  long. 
It  is  curious  that  they  should  have  persisted  in  this  mistake  in 
spite  of  the  far  more  accurate  map  which  Turner  drew  in  1784. 
As  one  goes  on  an  extraordinary  optical  delusion  is  seen. 
The  Kala  tso  stretches  out,  a  great  shield  of  silver  gray  on  the 
left  front,  and  the  river,  some  thirty  feet  below  us  on  the  same 
side,  appears  to  run  up  hill  into  it.  This  delusion,  which  is  very 
striking,  can  only  be  accounted  for  by  assuming  that  the  eye  is 
mistaken  in  the  apparent  height  of  the  Kala  tso.  This  lake  cer- 
tainly seemed  to  be  on  a  level  with  the  path  along  which  we  were 
marching,  and  the  river  is  perhaps  only  seen  as  an  accidental  item 
in  the  picture.  When,  however,  it  is  perceived  running  close  un- 
der our  feet,  the  inference  that  it  has  to  make  its  way  up  hill  to 
fall  into  the  lake  is,  I  suppose,  irresistible.  In  any  case,  it  is  a  cu- 
rious spectacle,  and  one  to  which  Manning  evidently  referred  in 
his  journal,  though  he  must  have  misread  his  notes.  He  records 
this  optical  delusion  as  visible  in  Red  Idol  Gorge.     The  Kala 


90  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

tso,  on  the  banks  of  which  the  column  halted  for  the  night  of  the 
6th,  after  a  short  march,  is  the  remains  of  a  very  much  larger 
lake,  which  in  earlier  days  covered  the  whole  plain  that  now  lies 
east  of  its  shore.  The  scenery  was  the  same  as  before,  though 
the  scanty  grass  bents  now  became  a  little  more  frequent,  and 
thick  wormwood  appeared  here  and  there  in  patches  on  the 
mountain-side. 

The  most  remarkable  thing  here  is  the  evidence  of  a  very 
large  population  in  earlier  days  which  the  continuous  string  of 
ruined  walls  and  houses  supplies.  For  a  space  of  nearly  two 
miles  the  hill-side  road — which  clings  still  to  the  mountains  in 
avoidance  of  the  now  vanished  lake — is  marked  by  a  wilderness 
of  great  pebbles  which  have  dropped  from  the  walls  and  houses 
of  a  lost  civilization.  The  ground  is  still  marked  by  lines  of 
crumbling  structures  held  together  in  the  ground  plan  of  their 
first  shape  by  dry  layers  of  mud-mortar.  Thousands  must  have 
lived  here  once.  As  with  most  other  things  in  Tibet,  there  are 
many  different  reasons  suggested  for  this  wholesale  desertion — 
a  small-pox,  the  subsidence  of  the  lake,  the  Mongol  invasion, 
the  utter  inability  of  the  inhabitants  to  adjust  themselves  to 
so  wretched  and  inhospitable  an  environment.  Perhaps,  also, 
the  closing  of  the  trade  routes  over  the  Sikkim  passes  may  have 
had  its  effect.  It  is  only  clear  to-day  that  the  scanty  duffle- 
clad  figures  who  bow  with  protruded  tongues  at  the  entering  in 
of  their  hamlets  and  the  black-aureoled  women  whose  heads 
appear  inquisitively  over  the  sordid  sod-parapets  of  the  roofs 
above  are  but  the  hundredth  part  of  the  population  of  a  scattered 
but  important  trade  center  in  the  past. 

The  question  that  now  exercised  the  General  was  whether  the 
jong  would  be  defended  or  not.  It  was  apparent,  even  at  this 
distance,  that  it  would  be  no  light  matter  to  drive  an  enemy,  how- 
ever weakly  armed,  from  so  strong  a  position,  and  we  were,  as 


X 


X 


o 

O 

z 

H 
►J 
< 

O 


a 


FORCING   THE   WAY   TO    GYANTSE  91 

a  matter  of  fact,  confronted  by  the  easier  slopes  of  the  rock  upon 
which  it  is  built.  There  is  no  approach  on  the  western  side. 
Standing  out  as  it  does  in  the  plain,  joined  only  by  a  narrow  sad- 
dle to  the  hills  beside  and  above  it,  the  jong  is  a  formidable  fort 
indeed.  There  was  some  delay  about  crossing  the  river,  and  then 
the  column  encamped  above  the  river  flats  on  the  edge  of  the  wide, 
fertile  plain. 

Emissaries  came  out  from  Gyantse— the  Jong-pen  and  the 
Chinese  General  Ma  who  had  first  accosted  us  at  Guru.  The 
Jong-pen  put  the  whole  situation  clearly  enough.  On  the  one 
hand,  he  said,  if  he  were  to  surrender  the  jong  to  us,  his  throat 
would  be  cut  by  the  Dalai  Lama ;  on  the  other  hand,  he  said,  with 
naive  simplicity,  that  as  all  his  soldiers  had  run  away,  he  was  not 
able  to  offer  any  effective  opposition  to  our  occupation  of  it.  This 
was  indeed  true.  Hundreds  of  Tibetan  soldiers  during  the  last 
halt  made  by  us  on  the  plain  took  advantage  of  our  inaction  to 
escape,  carrying  with  them,  it  was  reported,  most  of  the  available 
weapons  from  the  jong  and  town.  The  Jong-pen  of  Gyantse  is  a 
kindly  heavy  old  man  like  a  saddened  Falstaff ;  and  it  was  with 
considerable  regret  that  we  were  obliged  to  disregard  his  peti- 
tions. As  events  proved,  however,  it  would  have  been  a  wiser 
thing  if,  instead  of  a  temporary  occupation  of  the  fort,  followed 
by  inadequate  demolitions  near  the  two  main  gateways,  we  had 
boldly  undertaken  to  occupy  the  place.  Meanwhile  it  was  clear 
that  the  Tibetans  could  not  be  allowed  to  remain  undisturbed  in 
the  fort  which  commanded  the  country  round.  They  were  indeed 
promised  that  no  harm  should  be  done  to  any  one  in  the  place,  and 
that  the  temples  of  the  jong  and  of  the  town  should  remain  un- 
touched if,  on  their  side,  the  Tibetans  behaved  with  straightfor- 
wardness to  us.  We  camped  for  the  night  beside  a  new  and  well- 
built  house,  and  on  the  following  morning  moved  in,  prepared  both 
for  treachery  and  for  the  task,  if  need  be,  of  taking  the  fort  by 
storm.    There  was,  however,  no  necessity  for  apprehension.    The 


92  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

Jong-pen  and  the  Chinese  General  came  out  to  meet  us  and  surren- 
dered the  entire  place.  Still,  precautions  were  not  relaxed  until  the 
small  party  of  pioneers,  which  we  sent  forward  to  investigate  the 
ruined  walls  and  towers  that  crowned  the  great  rock,  had  climbed 
to  the  topmost  pinnacle,  and  the  Union  Jack  run  up  beside  the  gilt 
copper  finial  which  marked  the  highest  point.  The  utmost  cour- 
tesy was  shown  to  the  Jong-pen,  and  he  in  his  turn,  though  it 
must  be  feared  with  a  heavy  heart,  undertook  to  help  in  the  col- 
lection of  necessary  foodstuffs  from  the  town  and  from  the  sur- 
rounding villages.  Already  a  cursory  examination,  of  the  store- 
houses and  cellars  of  the  jong  had  shown  that  the  whole  place  was 
one  gigantic  granary.  All  was  not,  of  course,  discovered  at  first, 
but  nearly  eight  thousand  maunds  *  of  grain  and  tsamba  were 
found  inside  the  storerooms  of  this  fort  alone.  Two  positions  were 
selected  by  the  military  authorities  as  suitable  for  the  residence  of 
the  Mission.  One  of  them,  Chang-lo,  lay  at  the  head  of  the  ap- 
proach across  the  Nyang  chu,  1,350  yards  from  the  large  modern 
barrack  round  which  the  defenses  on  the  jong  were  centered. 
The  other  lay  within  500  yards  of  the  rock,  and  (as  the  jong  was 
not  occupied  by  our  troops)  would  have  proved  utterly  untenable 
in  the  circumstances  which  afterward  resulted  in  the  practical  in- 
vestment of  the  Mission  post.  As  it  was,  Chang-lo,  the  place  oc- 
cupied by  Colonel  Younghusband,  was  unpleasantly  near  and  a 
thousand  yards  within  the  range  of  a  Tibetan  jingal.  The  follow- 
ing day  the  work  of  collecting  the  foodstuffs  of  the  jong  began 
under  the  able  generalship  of  Major  Bretherton,  and  the  long 
convoys  of  mules  began  to  go  backward  and  forward  between 
Chang-lo  and  the  jong.  Small  bodies  of  mounted  men  went  out 
to  report  upon  the  stores  that  could  be  supplied  by  the  surround- 
ing villages,  and  the  amount  far  exceeded  that  reported  as  likely 

*  The  maund  used  in  the  north-east  of  India  weighs  80  pounds.  This  was, 
during  the  expedition,  the  accepted  unit  of  measurement,  and  was  also  the 
normal  weight  carried  by  a  single  cooHe. 


THE   HIGH    PRIEST   AT   GYANTSE 
"  Who  looks  like  a  saddened  Falstaff  " 


■I 


FORCING   THE   WAY    TO    GYANTSE  93 

by  the  Mission.  On  the  fourth  day,  Colonel  Younghusband  and 
the  men  moved  into  the  smaller  of  the  two  compounds  which  com- 
prise Chang-lo.  It  was  a  pretty  place.  A  beautifully  painted  and 
columned  open  room  opened  upon  a  small  courtyard,  in  the  south 
wall  of  which  was  a  gateway  leading  straight  out  on  to  a  grav- 
eled court  in  which  the  finest  poplar  trees  we  ever  saw  in  Tibet 
rose  bare  and  branching  over  our  heads.  The  other  part  of 
Chang-lo  consisted  of  a  very  irregularly  shaped  building  which 
probably  represented  the  actual  daily  living-house  of  the  ducal 
family  of  Chang-lo.  It  was  very  thickly  built,  and  presented  its 
most  impregnable  side  toward  the  jong.  This  peculiarity,  which 
was  common  enough  in  the  houses  of  the  plain  to  suggest  that  it 
was  not  wholly  unintentional,  proved  afterward  the  salvation  of 
the  situation.  The  place  was  capable  of  defense,  and  to  the  south, 
away  from  the  jong,  a  thick  plantation  of  leafless  willow-thorns 
was  carpeted  from  end  to  end  with  iris.  The  river  ran  beside  us 
sixty  yards  away,  turning  in  its  course  toward  the  far  distant  spur 
upon  which  the  scattered  houses  and  temples  of  Tse-chen  were 
built.  Other  white  houses  dotted  the  plain  on  all  sides  within  a 
mile,  and  twelve  hundred  yards  away  to  the  north-east  the  little 
village  of  Pala,  then  deserted,  guarded  the  road  to  Lhasa. 

It  is  worth  while  to  review  the  political  situation  at  the  time 
of  our  arrival  at  Gyantse.  Colonel  Younghusband  had  sent  a 
letter  to  the  Amban  announcing  to  him  the  impending  arrival  of 
the  British  Mission,  and  requesting  him  to  come  to  Gyantse  to 
discuss  the  terms  of  the  agreement,  bringing  with  him  properly 
qualified  Tibetan  representatives  of  sufficiently  high  rank.  This 
letter  was  sent  off  during  the  march  up,  but  I  do  not  suppose 
that  any  one  in  the  force  really  believed  that  the  Tibetans  were 
willing  to  treat  with  us.  The  news  of  their  loss  at  Tuna  was 
brought  to  the  Lhasan  authorities  in  a  wholly  mendacious  form. 
It  is  easy  to  see  how  the  incidents  of  that  unfortunate  day  lent 
themselves  to  misconstruction.    It  was  reported,  and  believed,  in 


94  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

Lhasa  that  the  English  had  decoyed  the  Tibetan  soldiers  away 
from  their  defenses  and  had  then  wantonly  shot  them  down.  The 
truth  was  indeed  known  to  the  friendly  States  of  Bhutan  and 
Nepal,  but  these  carry  little  weight  in  Tibetan  councils.  The 
only  man  in  Lhasa  who  seems  to  have  understood  the  gravity  of 
the  situation  was  Dorjieff  himself.  His  action  was  immediate 
and  characteristic.  As  soon  as  the  news  arrived  of  our  occupation 
of  Gyantse  he  suggested  to  the  Tibetans  the  advisability  of  over- 
whelming the  Mission  by  a  night  attack.  This  had  been  proposed 
by  him  already,  while  the  Mission  were  still  encamped  at  Kamba- 
jong,  and  it  is  likely  that  the  retirement  of  the  Mission  from  that 
place  was  rendered  doubly  ignominious  in  the  eyes  of  the  Tibetans 
because  they  believed  our  evacuation  to  be  directly  due  to  the 
attack  for  which  they  were  preparing.  Dorjieff  was,  however,  far 
from  confident  as  to  the  upshot  of  this  Experiment.  He  realized, 
better  perhaps  than  any  one  else  in  Lhasa,  that  if  the  small  force 
accompanying  Colonel  Younghusband  were  able  to  force  their  way 
on  to  the  capital  they  would  unhesitatingly  do  so.  The  name  of 
Younghusband  is  unpleasantly  well  known  in  the  chancelleries  of 
St.  Petersburg.  He  has  never  been  associated  with  want  of  enter- 
prise or  of  readiness  to  seize  the  least  opportunity  afforded  by  his 
opponent,  but  his  far-sighted  prudence  was  perhaps  better  recog- 
nized still.  That  the  Colonel  should  have  decided  to  remain  in 
Gyantse  with  a  small  escort  while  Macdonald  returned  to  the 
Chumbi  Valley  to  organize  arrangements  for  a  further  advance 
to  Lhasa  cannot,  therefore,  have  seemed  to  Dorjieff  to  be  the  rash- 
ness of  an  over-confident  man.  So  far  Dorjieff's  influence  with 
the  Dalai  Lama  was  unimpaired ;  his  position  in  the  country  was 
however  weakened,  not  only  because  in  spite  of  his  assurances  the 
English  had  actually  been  able  to  penetrate  into  the  country,  but 
also  because  it  was  now  becoming  known  that  Japan  was  actually 
at  war  with  Russia,  a  disquieting  suggestion  of  the  latter's  real 
strength.    News  of  the  Russian  defeats  did  not  reach  Lhasa  until 


A  VALLEY  NEAR  SAMONDA 


EAST  END   OF  THE  JONG,  OR  FORTRESS,  AT  GYANTSE 
Captured  after  a  long  and  bitter  fight 


FORCING   THE   WAY   TO   GYANTSE  95 

the  middle  of  May,  if  information  received  there  is  to  be  trusted. 
Dorjieff,  therefore,  determined,  after  setting  the  fuse  alight,  to 
make  the  best  of  his  way  to  a  place  of  safety.  If  the  British  Mis- 
sion were  annihilated  he  could  always  return  and  claim  the  credit 
of  the  suggestion.  If,  on  the  other  hand,  the  English  were  able 
to  beat  off  the  attack,  Dorjieff  foresaw  only  too  clearly  that  his 
influence  in  Lhasa  was  doomed,  and  that  even  the  Dalai  Lama 
himself  could  not  protect  him. 

While  the  Tibetans  were  preparing  to  send  a  fresh  force  for 
this  hostile  purpose  they  naturally  refused  to  allow  the  Amban  to 
negotiate  with  the  Mission.  The  Viceroy  himself  repeatedly  saw 
the  Dalai  Lama  in  person,  but  could  get  nothing  from  him ;  to  his 
demands  for  transport  and  for  responsible  and  accredited  repre- 
sentatives of  Tibet  in  the  forthcoming  negotiations  no  answer 
was  returned.  At  one  time  he  thought  that  when  it  came  to  the 
point  the  Tibetan  government  would  hesitate  to  repudiate  in  any 
direct  manner  the  suzerainty  which  he  represented.  He  there- 
fore bluntly  reminded  them  that  he  was  acting  under  the  orders 
of  the  Chinese  Emperor  in  demanding  that  they  should  negotiate ; 
he  added  that  the  responsibility  of  acquiescing  in  the  refusal  of 
the  Tibetans  was  so  serious  that  he  declined  to  be  any  party  to 
their  action.  The  orders  had  been  given  and  signed  with  the  ver- 
milion pencil — those  orders  he  intended  to  carry  out.  The  im- 
mediate answer  of  the  Dalai  Lama  was  an  assumption  of  all  re- 
sponsibility for  the  action  of  the  Tibetan  government.  He  said 
that  he  was  willing  to  accept  the  onus  of  acting  in  contravention 
of  his  suzerain's  commands. 

Meanwhile,  Colonel  Younghusband  found  himself  in  a  difficult 
position.  The  advance  to  Gyantse  had  been  accepted  as  inevitable 
by  the  home  government.  But  they  did  not  believe  that  it  would 
be  necessary  to  make  any  further  advance,  and  their  policy  at  this 
time  assumed  the  ultimate  submission  of  the  Tibetan  government 
during  this  phase  of  our  relations  with  the  country,  and  Young- 


96  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

husband,  in  some  way  which  is  neither  entirely  clear  nor  entirely 
fair,  was  regarded  as  unduly  anxious  to  press  on  to  the  capital. 
This  was  true  in  so  far  as  that  he  recognized  the  importance,  in 
dealing  with  Oriental  nations,  of  concluding  the  treaty  in  no 
place  short  of  the  capital.  Sound  as  this  theory  is  in  all  cases,  it  is 
especially  so  in  the  case  of  Tibet.  Gyantse  is  a  place  the  political 
importance  of  which  has  been  greatly  over-rated;  the  truth  is, 
that  no  city  or  district,  except  Lhasa,  is  of  any  political  impor- 
tance whatever.  A  treaty  signed  at  Gyantse  might  have  achieved 
one  object.  It  might  have  given  us  a  satisfactory  basis  for  insist- 
ing, when  we  thought  fit,  upon  the  observation  of  its  terms.  But  as 
binding  the  hierarchy  of  Lhasa  it  was  of  no  more  real  importance 
than  the  treaty  of  1890-3,  which  they  Jiad  repudiated.  Colonel 
Younghusband  appreciated  the  difficulty  of  securing  any  finality 
in  our  relations  with  the  Dalai  Lama  by  negotiations  at  Gyantse, 
but  he  was  throughout  perfectly  willing  to  accept  the  opinion  of 
the  Government  and  negotiate  at  this  place.  He  may  have  re- 
garded it  as  a  half  measure,  but  he  recognized  the  necessity  of 
carrying  out  his  orders  to  the  letter,  if  it  were  possible  for  him 
to  do  so.  At  the  same  time  he  also  recognized  the  improbability 
of  getting  the  Tibetans  to  co-operate. 

Tradition  and  experience  alike  had  combined  to  persuade  the 
Tibetans  of  the  truth  of  Disraeli's  statement  that  delay  is  the  se- 
cret of  success.  They  had  always  succeeded  in  the  past  by  a  pol- 
icy of  abstention ;  why,  then,  even  if  we  were  able  to  reach  a  town 
of  the  political  insignificance  of  Gyantse,  should  they  be  induced 
to  abandon  the  policy  which  had  served  them  in  good  stead  for  so 
many  centuries?  The  Dalai  Lama  had  perhaps  good  reason  for 
his  confidence.  He  remembered  that  assurances  had  been  received 
long  ago  from  a  trustworthy  source  that  the  British  Government 
were  opposed  to  the  risks  involved  by  sending  troops  further 
into  Tibet.  It  is  true  that  he  cannot  be  supposed  to  have  under- 
stood the  enormous  advantage  which  the  Parliamentary  system 


FORCING   THE   WAY   TO    GYANTSE  97 

of  England  put  into  his  hands :  he  cannot  have  known  that  there 
was  any  serious  criticism  of  Lord  Curzon's  policy  in  England :  of 
the  chance — which  seemed  to  us  in  Tibet  to  be  a  considerable  one 
— of  a  change  of  policy  as  the  result  of  a  General  Election  he  can 
have  known  nothing.  But  there  were  many  other  things  which 
may  have  influenced  him  in  risking  our  unwillingness  to  proceed 
further  into  the  country.  In  the  first  place,  first  by  a  long  interval, 
Lhasa  had  never  before  been  reached,  and  he  may  well  have 
trusted  to  the  experience  of  history.  In  the  second  place,  he  prob- 
ably imagined  that  the  advance  to  Lhasa  would  necessitate  the 
employment  of  a  very  much  larger  force  than  that  with  which 
we  had  reached  Gyantse,  and  no  one  knows  so  well  as  a  Tibetan 
the  impracticability  of  taking  large  bodies  of  men  over  these  high 
uplands  without  long  and  careful  preparation.  Then,  again,  he 
looked  forward  to  the  evacuation  of  southern  Tibet  by  the  Eng- 
lish as  a  matter  of  necessity,  not  so  much  because  they  were  un- 
able to  withstand  the  climate  there  as  because  it  was  impossible 
to  maintain  communications  during  the  winter  over  the  terrible 
passes  of  the  Chumbi  Valley,  Delay,  therefore,  was  his  obvious 
policy.  It  is  an  odd  thought  that  if  he  had  limited  himself  to  this, 
his  opposition  might  perhaps  have  been  successfuK 

Of  all  these  considerations.  Colonel  Younghusband  was  fully 
aware.  He  did  not  for  a  moment  believe  that  negotiation  at  Gy- 
antse could  be  carried  through.  His  knowledge  of  Oriental  habits 
and  thought  told  him  unerringly  that  in  the  capital  only  was  there 
a  chance  of  making  such  an  impression  as  might  secure  the  due 
observation  of  the  treaty.  But,  on  the  other  hand,  his  instruc- 
tions from  home  were  clear  enough,  and  for  some  time,  while  the 
matter  hung  in  the  balance,  it  must  have  been  difficult  for  him  to 
see  how  any  middle  course  was  possible  which  would  enable  Lord 
Curzon  to  achieve  even  the  most  moderate  triumph  in  the  face  of 
misconceptions  in  Whitehall,  As  we  now  know,  the  Tibetans  all 
along  were  on  the  point  of  settling  the  matter  by  their  own  foolish 


98  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

action,  but  until  the  early  days  of  May  the  outlook  was  blank 
indeed. 

In  the  light  of  after  events  it  was  lucky  that  during  those  first 
three  weeks  after  our  arrival  at  Gyantse  we  did  not  let  the  grass 
grow  under  our  feet.  Much  had  to  be  done  by  the  military  au- 
thorities in  putting  Chang-lo  into  a  proper  state  of  defense,  but 
for  the  members  of  the  Mission,  excepting  Captain  Ryder,  R.E., 
and  Captain  Walton,  I.M.S.,  there  was  little  to  do.  Negotiation 
of  any  kind  was  obviously  not  intended  by  the  Tibetans,  and  some 
of  us  spent  our  time  in  making  expeditions  to  eyery  point  of  in- 
terest in  Gyantse  and  in  the  plain  around. 


CHAPTER    VII 

LIFE  IN  A  TIBETAN  TOWN 

THE  first  view  of  Gyantse  is  imposing.  Across  the  wide, 
level  plain,  cultivated  in  little  irregular  patches  as  closely 
as  an  English  county,  the  high-walled  peak  from  which  the  town 
gets  its  name^  rises  500  feet  into  the  air.  From  the  first  the 
jong  fills  the  eye,  and  it  is  not  until  one  is  close  that  the  low, 
white  two-storied  houses  of  the  town  are  seen  at  its  foot,  nestling 
under  the  protection  of  the  battlements  and  bastions  of  the  great 
fort. 

So  huge  is  the  mass  of  masonry  and  sun-dried  brick  with 
which  the  steep  and  isolated  hill  is  crowned,  that  it  is  a  matter 
of  some  surprise  that  it  has  received  scanty  or  no  attention  from 
the  few  travelers  who  have  passed  beneath  it.  Manning,  indeed, 
in  181 1,  refers  to  it  as  "a  sort  of  castle  on  the  top  of  a  hill," 
a  somewhat  inadequate  description  of  a  pile  of  buildings  hardly 
less  in  size  than  those  of  Mont  St.  Michel.  Ruinous  it  was 
even  in  April,  but  that  was  hardly  perceptible  at  a  distance, 
and  the  apparent  strength  of  the  huge  towers  and  curtains  which 
overhang  the  almost  precipitous  rock  would,  one  thinks,  have 
impressed  the  most  incurious  of  observers,  among  whom  Man- 
ning, the  only  Englishman  who  has  ever  reached  Lhasa,  is 
unfortunately  to  be  placed.  Even  in  its  existing  condition,  a 
week's  siege  and  a  couple  of  hundred  casualties  would  have 

*  The  name  is  written  rgyal-rtse  and  means  "  Royal  Peak."  The  "  n  "  is 
merely  an  example  of  a  common  tendency  to  nasalize  the  close  of  a  first  sylla- 
ble. "  Palden  Lhamo  "  is  almost  invariably  pronounced  "  Panden  Lhamo." 
The  great  monastery  at  Gyantse  is  often  called  the  "  Pan-khor  Choide." 

99 


lOO  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

been  the  price  of  any  attempt  on  our  part  to  take  the  successive 
defenses  by  storm  in  the  face  of  the  slightest  really  well-handled 
opposition. 

Leaving  the  level  of  the  town  at  the  south-eastern  corner  of 
the  rock— which  is  400  or  500  yards  in  length— one  makes  one's 
way  up  the  zigzag  approach  hewn  out  of  the  side  of  the  ocher- 
ous  quartz-seamed  sand-stone.  The  roadway,  after  running  the 
gauntlet  of  a  large  detached  bastion  built  against  the  flank  of  the 
almost  perpendicular  stone,  leads  up  to  the  great  gateway,  in  the 
deep  recess  of  which — then  partly  supported  by  two  stout 
wooden  pillars  and  of  no  great  strength— there  hung  from  the 
ceiling  four  huge  stuffed  carcasses  of  dongs  or  wild  yaks,  with  ar- 
tificial eyes  and  tongues  protruding  in  a  fearsome  way.  But  the 
beasts  were  falling  to  pieces  from  age,  and  rather  resembled  badly 
stitched  leather  bags  than  anything  else.  Everything  that  could 
fall  from  them — hair,  horns,  hoofs — had  already  fallen,  and 
handfuls  of  the  straw  stuffing  bulged  out  from  every  seam. 
After  passing  the  gateway  the  road  zigzags  upward  again,  pro- 
tected by  a  rough  breast-work  in  which  recent  repairs  and  new 
loopholes  were  obvious  every  few  yards.  The  latter  were 
"  splayed  "  on  the  inside,  contrasting  strongly  with  the  older 
useless  little  slits  which  only  allow  a  defender  to  fire  straight 
in  front  of  him.  Higher  up,  beside  some  houses  which  are  fall- 
ing rapidly  to  pieces,  was  a  new  and  well-built  barrack  store- 
room, in  which  thousands  of  pounds  of  powder,  tons  and  tons 
of  supplies,  and  tens  of  miles  of  matchlock  fuse  were  found. 
Another  hundred  paces  to  the  left  brought  one  to  the  door  of  the 
most  interesting  series  of  rooms  remaining  in  the  jong.  Dark- 
ened by  the  blocking  up  of  their  windows,  one  cellar-like  low 
room  leads  into  another — some  little  chapels,  some  living  rooms, 
some  storerooms.  Out  of  these  one  came  into  a  little  court 
with  a  rotten  wooden  ladder  and  a  loyal  dirty  gray  watch-dog 
who  exhibited  more  pluck  than  his  flying  masters  had.    At  the 


>    >      > 


)    >      '  ,  1  '    >  ',  >    >    ' 


»  >  »    »    »  » 


THE  TOWN  OF  GYANTSE 

Here  the  Mission  made  a  long  lialt.    1 1  did  not  advance  until  the  military  escort,  after  a  fierce  battle  with  the  Tibetans, 
captured  the  stronghold.     The  Palkhor  Choide.  inclosed  in  walls,  fills  the  upper  end  of  the  picture. 


LIFE  IN  A  TIBETAN  TOWN  loi 

top  of  the  ladder  a  step  to  the  left  takes  one  into  a  small  yard, 
one  end  of  which  is  occupied  by  a  little  gompa  or  temple.  Look- 
ing in  from  the  sunlight  one  could  just  distinguish  the  great 
dull  gold  figure  and  smiling,  placid  countenance  of  the  Master 
whose  presentment  no  superstition  or  latitude  can  either  deface 
or  materially  change.  Whatever  stage  in  art  his  devotees  may 
have  reached,  the  great  teacher's  own  image  remains  the  same 
from  Japan  to  Java,  and  the  gaudy  "  katags  "  or  ceremonial 
scarfs  hide  in  Gyantse  as  severely  simple  a  design  as  you  may 
find  at  Kamakura  or  Mandalay.  One  large  turquoise  supplied 
the  ever-present  bump  of  wisdom  on  Gautama's  forehead,  but 
otherwise  there  was  no  decoration.  But  when  one  entered  the 
luxury  that  had  been  denied  to  the  central  figure  was  seen  to  be 
lavished  on  the  ornaments  that  strew  the  kyil-kor  or  altar  shelves 
beneath  the  Buddha.  One  great  wrought-steel  chorten  with 
chased  courses  and  turquoise  and  gold  ornamentation  stood  out 
among  a  crowd  of  lesser  ones  of  brass  or  silver,  antique  ivories 
from  India,  vases  with  peacock  feathers,  and  great  brass  and 
copper  lamps.  These  lamps  are  perhaps  the  most  striking  orna- 
ment of  a  Buddhist  shrine.  Sometimes  single,  there  may  be 
dozens  and  even  hundreds,  each  composed  of  a  wide  and  deep 
bowl  of  heaped-up  butter,  in  which,  floating  in  a  little  pool  which 
its  own  warmth  has  made,  burns  a  single  wick  with  a  small 
yellow  flame.  These  are  the  last  things  that  the  priests  will 
take  away.  If  they  fear  looting,  they  will  hide  every  other 
ornament,  replacing  them  by  strange,  many-colored  erections  of 
butter  (torma),  which  they  mold  with  extraordinary  dexterity 
into  conventional  structures,  sometimes  five  or  six  feet  high. 
But  the  altar  lamps  must,  and  do,  remain,  whatever  the  risk, 
and  one  of  the  pleas  subsequently  brought  forward  by  the  Abbot 
of  Gyantse  was  that  a  fine  to  be  paid  in  butter  might  be  com- 
muted, as  they  needed  all  the  butter  they  could  get  for  cere- 
monial use  on  their  hundred  altars — and  they  urged,  with  shrewd 


r       r    c 

«■        r  r     r 


I02  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

flattery,  it  was  well  known  that  the  British  never  interfered  with 
the  religion  of  the  countries  into  which  they  made  their  way. 

Outside  this  little  orange-walled  gompa  were  five  pots  in 
which  bloomed  courageously  well-grown  plants  of  simple  Eng- 
lish stocks.  It  was  a  curious  shock  to  see  them.  How  they 
came  there  it  would  be  useless  to  guess,  but  surely  never  before 
did  stocks  justify  so  well  Maeterlinck's  eulogy  of  those  little 
flowers  that  "  sing  among  ruined  walls  and  cover  with  light  the 
grieving  stones."  For  up  above  the  gompa  rise  the  great  towers 
and  buildings  which  lead  up  to  the  topmost  structure  on  the 
very  edge  of  the  precipice  which  confronts  the  Lamasery  to 
the  north-west ;  and  even  then,  before  the  bombardments  and  ex- 
plosions of  later  days,  they  were  all  roofless  shells  of  stone  which 
quivered  in  the  light  afternoon  wind. 

From  the  castle  a  fine  view  is  to  be  had  of  the  town  of 
Gyantse  and  the  great  Lamasery  of  Pal-khor  Choide,  which 
stretches  on  the  slope  of  a  southerly  spur  facing  the  jong  three- 
quarters  of  a  mile  away,  protected  by  a  long  crimson  wall  from 
the  assaults  of  the  prevailing  north-west  wind.  There  are  two 
curious  things  about  this  monastery.  First,  although  it  is  sub- 
ject to  Lhasa,  and  therefore  nominally  a  Gelukpa  or  Yellow 
Cap  foundation,  it  contains  representatives  of  nearly  all  the 
recognized  sects  in  Lamaism,  which  are  numerous  and  jealous, 
though  not  vitally  opposed  to  each  other  in  doctrine.  A  curious 
custom,  however,  is,  that  when  the  Nying-mas  or  Red  Cap  com- 
munities in  Pal-khor  Choide  worship  with  the  Gelukpas  the 
former  make  the  not  inconsiderable  concession  of  wearing  the 
yellow  cap  instead  of  their  own  distinctive  red  one. 

The  other  point,  which  is  perhaps  of  little  interest,  is  the 
legend  that  the  great  chorten  or  caitya  outside  the  central  tem- 
ple was  copied  from  the  well-known  temple  of  Buddh-Gaya 
long  before  the  restorer's  hand  had  obscured  some  of  the  char- 
acteristic features  of  the  latter.     This  legend  is,  as  a  matter  of 


>     >    3   J   . 


>    » 


ft   > 
>      J 


'     ,»     >     »      »  » 


■ji 


■J 

<; 

o 

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Pi 
w 

< 


CO 

O 
Z 

r' 


<   I   1 1  <  I 


LIFE  IN  A  TIBETAN  TOWN  103 

fact,  wholly  untrue.  There  is  hardly  any  similarity  between  the 
two  buildings.  Chandra  Das  calls  the  architecture  of  the  Gy- 
antse  building  unique.  In  a  way  this  is  true,  but  the  lower  part 
represents  fairly  well  on  a  minute  scale — the  whole  base  is  only 
120  feet  each  way — the  great  vihara  of  Boro-Bodoer  in  the  mid- 
dle of  Java.  There  is  the  same  number  of  balustraded  terraces, 
and  the  sides  of  each  contracting  stage  are  broken  by  square 
projections  in  a  similar  way.  Each  projection  or  angle  con- 
tains a  small  chapel.  The  upper  part  of  the  structure  consists 
of  a  large  white  drum  with  four  grotesquely  ornamented  door- 
ways of  a  Burmese  type,  and  a  thirteen-ringed  cone  surmounted 
by  a  "  htee  "  and  finial,  decorated  with  leaf-clapper  bells,  is  also 
suggestive  of  Burma.  The  upper  part  is  thickly  ornamented 
with  gold  leaf,  and  the  gilt  copper  plates  composing  the  rings 
are  each  decorated  with  two  incised  figures  of  Buddha.  The 
lower  part  of  this  pagoda — which  is  generally  white — is  roughly 
decorated  here  and  there  with  color  in  an  effective  way,  and  the 
interior  walls  and  passages  are  painted  with  microscopic  finish, 
in  some  medium  that  produces  an  enamel-like  surface. 

As  one  leaves  the  chorten  and  enters  the  main  temple,  an 
exquisitely  painted  "Wheel  of  Life"  (if  we  may  accept  the 
rough  translation  which  Rudyard  Kipling  borrowed  for  "  Kim  " 
from  Waddell)  meets  the  eye  to  the  left  of  the  doorway  leading 
from  the  vestibule  to  the  central  apartment.  It  is  difficult  to 
convey  any  idea  of  the  minute  finish  of  this  piece  of  work.  A 
few  will  realize  it  when  I  say  that  it  is  probably  the  only  prod- 
uct of  man's  brush  which  rivals  the  "  Book  of  Kells  "  or  the 
"  Lindisfarne  Gospels."  Up  in  the  balcony  above  there  is  ex- 
quisite work,  but  upon  this  circle  the  artist  has  lavished  an  ob- 
vious affection  and  care  which  must  be  seen  to  be  believed.  In 
style  it  resembles  thirteenth  century  illumination,  but,  for  ex- 
ample, no  Vision  of  Hell  was  ever  drawn  with  such  amazing 
delicacy  and  hideous  ingenuity  as  are  the  quaint  tortures  of  the 


I04  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

damned  in  this  representation  of  the  Buddhist  Sheol.  Inside 
the  central  crimson-pillared  hall  the  only  conspicuous  object  is 
the  great  seated  figure  of  Maitreya,  the  next  Buddha  to  be  re- 
incarnated. He  is,  as  always,  seated  in  European  fashion,  a 
tradition  which  is  more  suggestive  than  most  modern  Buddhist 
legends,  and  instinctively  recalls  the  belief  of  Lamaism  that  the 
end  of  the  present  age  will  be  marked  by  the  surrender  of 
Buddhism  into  the  hands  of  the  "  Piling  "  or  western  foreigner. 
In  a  recess  of  each  of  three  sides  of  the  central  hall  are  great 
seated  images  of  the  Buddha.  Sakya-muni  himself  is  sur- 
rounded in  the  dark  northern  chapel  by  half-seen  gigantic  stand- 
ing statues  of  Egyptian  massiveness  and  simplicity,  almost 
touching  each  other  as  they  line  the  walls,  and  looming  out  of 
the  obscurity  with  dignity  and  no  small  dramatic  effect.*  To 
the  left  of  the  vestibule  is  an  odd  chamber  of  horrors.  It  is 
reported  to  be  sufficient  to  overawe  the  most  insubordinate  of 
lamas,  but  the  decaying  stuffed  beasts  that  hung  from  the  roof 
and  the  dingy  demons  painted  on  the  walls  were  scarcely  as  hor- 
rible as  the  common  blue  and  scarlet  guardians  of  religion  who 
protect  the  entrance  to  every  gompa.  A  dragon's  skin  was 
pointed  out  to  me.  It  was,  perhaps,  no  bad  imitation.  Allowing 
for  contraction,  the  python  which  once  owned  this  covering 
must  have  been  at  least  25  feet  long  and  13  inches  in  diameter. 
Chain-armor,  bows,  quivers,  flags,  painted  cloth,  skins,  a  few  old 
guns  and  spears,  and  a  few  little  untidy  altars,  from  which,  as 
from  every  other  shrine  we  visited  in  the  Lamasery,  every  orna- 
ment, except  the  lamps,  had  been  taken  and  hidden  away  in  ter- 
ror, and,  of  course,  dirt  everywhere,  completed  the  furniture  of 
this  dismal  chamber.  But  there  remained  many  more  temples 
and  apartments,  from  the  inspection  of  few  of  which  we  were 
excused   by   the   talkative   and,    apparently,    perfectly    friendly 

*  A  similar  arrangement  is  to  be  seen  in  the  sanctuary  of  the  "Jo"  in 

the  cathedral  of  Lhasa. 


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LIFE  IN  A  TIBETAN  TOWN  105 

lamas.  After  drinking  tea  with  the  Abbot  under  the  somewhat 
oppressive  chaperonage  of  four  Sikhs  armed  to  the  teeth,  we 
left  the  monastery  with  many  expressions  of  good-will. 

This  was  the  first  of  many  excursions  to  places  of  interest 
in  the  neighborhood.  The  strangest  visit  we  ever  paid  was  that 
to  the  Buried  Monks.  One  day  O'Connor  and  I  rode  out  down 
the  valley  about  twelve  miles  to  a  small  village  in  the  cleft  of  the 
mountains  almost  opposite  Dongtse;  we  took  with  us  the  Sheb- 
dung  Lama.  Nothing  could  have  been  more  peaceful  and  rus- 
tic than  the  long  stretches  of  the  plain  dotted  here  and  there 
.  with  little  figures  engaged  on  their  farm  work.  We  stopped 
once  to  examine  more  closely  the  elaborate  head-dress  of  a 
couple  of  plowing  yaks,  much  to  the  pleasure  and  pride  of  the 
clear-eyed  boy  who  was  their  driver.  Everywhere  the  villagers 
were  pleased  enough  to  see  us;  the  first  prickle  of  green  was 
rising  from  the  brown  squares  of  irrigated  mud,  and  some  of 
the  trees  were  timidly  putting  out  the  purple  that  precedes  the 
green  of  spring.  The  nights  were  still  cold,  though  the  heat 
in  the  middle  of  the  day  was  excessive,  and  the  hot  dry  wind  that 
scoured  the  valley  every  afternoon  still  burned  up  the  vegetation 
on  the  hill-sides  and  in  other  places  where  no  artificial  moisture 
could  supply  sap  for  the  young  foliage.  We  took  the  road  on 
the  right  bank,  not  crossing  over  the  bridge  at  Tse-chen;  this 
road  keeps  a  constant  level  following  the  curves  of  the  mountain- 
sides ten  feet  above  the  valley  flats.  There  was  little  enough 
to  mark  the  journey  down.  Carelessly  enough  we  ambled  along 
with  our  two  Mounted  Infantry  men,  whom  we  had  taken  out 
of  deference  to  Colonel  Brander's  wishes,  rather  than  from  any 
real  belief  that  then  or  thenceforward  we  should  be  in  actual 
need  of  them.  Nothing  could  have  been  more  peaceful  and 
promising  than  the  affairs  of  Gyantse  at  that  moment;  we  had 
come  through  the  town  and — an  unquestioned  proof  of  our  popu- 
larity— the  beggars  had  become  both  familiar  and  insolent.     It 


io6  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

was  a  bright  day  and  we  had  our  luncheon  with  us.  The  good 
people  of  the  valley  were  always  willing  enough  to  give  us 
hospitality  to  the  best  of  their  ability,  but  after  all  it  was  as  well 
to  have  a  couple  of  sandwiches  and  a  boiled  egg.  About  twelve 
o'clock  we  paused  opposite  Dongtse,  lying  out  sleepily  in  the  sun 
with  the  great  three-decker  palace  of  the  Pala  family  anchored 
in  the  trees  below.  Very  soon  after  this  we  rode  through  a  little 
hamlet  with  some  name  like  Chi-lang.  A  sharp  turn  round  a 
projecting  spur  brought  us  face  to  face  with  the  little  valley  in 
which  the  monastery  of  Nyen-de-kyi-buk  hides  itself.  The  as- 
cent was  easy  between  bushes  of  thorn  and  roses  covered  with  a 
wealth  of  traveler's  joy;  we  passed  beside  the  usual  chortens 
and  through  a  gateway  over  which  a  peach-tree  spangled  the  blue 
of  the  sky  with  pink  and  snow.  There  was  another  blossoming 
against  the  walls  of  the  monastery  half-way  up  the  hill.  A  hun- 
dred yards  further  on  we  found  the  abbot  and  the  "  chanzi "  of 
the  community  waiting  to  receive  us. 

The  Shebdung  Lama  had  lived  for  many  years  across  the 
valley  and  must  have  seen  from  his  master's  windows  above 
the  town  and  gompa  the  rock-clinging  monastery  to  which  we 
had  come  was  really  responsible  for  our  visit.  With  the  usual 
inability  to  recognize  the  things  which  really  interest  a  traveler 
in  a  strange  country  he  had,  while  insisting  upon  the  interests 
and  the  beauty  of  the  Sinchen  Lama's  home,  only  incidentally 
spoken  of  a  small  community  across  the  valley  where,  he  said, 
extreme  self-mortification  was  practised  by  a  small  company  of 
the  Nying-ma  sect.  We  left  our  ponies  in  the  monk's  care  and 
went  inside  the  temple.  We  were  glad  to  escape  the  white 
and  dazzling  sunshine.  There  was  instantly  visible  a  curious 
distinction  between  the  monks  of  Nyen-de-kyi-buk  and  those 
whom  we  had  met  elsewhere.  With  the  exception  of  the  officials 
of  the  monastery  these  recluses  wear  their  hair  long,  not  plaited 
into  a  pigtail,  but  allowed  to  fall  almost  loose  over  their  shoul- 


GAILY  BEDECKED  YAKS  DRAWING  A  PLOW 


LIFE  IN  A  TIBETAN  TOWN  107 

ders  in  a  matted  and  filthy  tangle.  But  besides  this,  there  was  not 
very  much  to  distinguish  the  lamasery  from  others  in  the  valley. 
The  abbot,  a  quiet,  sad-eyed  man  of  about  forty,  v^as  shaven, 
as  also  were  a  dozen  children  playing  about  with  wholesome 
bickerings  in  the  dust  of  the  courtyard  opposite  the  great  door- 
way of  the  temple.  All  were  dressed  in  the  usual  sacred  maroon, 
and  they  seemed  cheerful  and  contented.  Inside  the  chapel  of 
the  monastery,  however,  there  was  certainly  an  austerity  which 
we  had  not  seen  elsewhere.  This  Du-kang  had  few  of  the  usual 
silk  banners  and  hangings  which  contribute  so  much  both  to  the 
color  and  the  darkness  of  an  ordinary  gompa.  There  were  the 
usual  cushions  on  the  ground,  but  the  rows  of  images  and  cere- 
monial ornaments  which  generally  fill  the  sanctuary  end  of 
these  chapels  were  replaced  by  precise  rows  of  books,  each  lodged 
sedately  in  its  own  pigeon-hole.  In  the  center,  in  place  of  the 
usual  kyil-kor,  with  its  multifarious  confusion  of  cups  and  bowls 
and  lamps,  there  was  a  narrow  shelf  in  front  of  a  glazed  recess. 
I  think  that  there  were  on  this  shelf  ten  or  twelve  little  brass 
bowls  full  of  water,  but  there  were  no  butter  lamps.  The  sight 
of  glass  in  Tibet  always  attracted  attention :  it  was  rare  enough 
to  see  a  piece  a  foot  square;  this  glass  was  five  times  as  large, 
and  one  wondered  how  it  had  escaped  safely  across  the  passes 
to  this  sequestered  spot.  Behind  it  a  hard-featured  Buddha 
scowled,  a  very  different  representation  of  the  Master  from  that 
placid  and  kindly  countenance  which  sanctifies  him  still  to  many 
not  of  his  own  creed.  Under  the  abbot's  guidance  we  visited 
the  rooms  opening  out  from  the  temple.  There  was  nothing  of 
great  interest,  nothing  to  distinguish  it  from  twenty  other 
gompas.  We  then  had  tea  with  our  host,  and  afterward  we  asked 
permission  to  see  one  of  the  immured  monks.  Without  any 
hesitation  the  abbot  led  the  way  out  into  the  sunshine,  which  lay 
sweltering  over  the  spring-teeming  spaces  of  the  valley  below, 
and  venturesome  little  green  plants  were  poking  up  under  our 


io8  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

feet  between  the  crevices  in  the  stone  footway.  We  climbed 
about  forty  feet,  and  the  abbot  led  us  into  a  small  courtyard 
which  had  blank  walls  all  round  it,  over  which  a  peach-tree 
reared  its  transparent  pink  and  white  against  the  sky.  Almost 
on  a  level  with  the  ground  there  was  an  opening  closed  with  a 
flat  stone  from  behind.  In  front  of  this  window  was  a  ledge 
eighteen  inches  in  width,  with  two  basins  beside  it,  one  at  each 
end.  The  abbot  was  attended  by  an  acolyte  who,  by  his  mas- 
ter's orders,  tapped  three  times  sharply  on  the  stone  slab;  we 
stood  in  the  little  courtyard  in  the  sun,  and  watched  that  wicket 
with  cold  apprehension.  I  think,  on  the  whole,  it  was  the  most 
uncanny  thing  I  saw  in  all  Tibet.  What  on  earth  was  going 
to  appear  when  that  stone  slab,  which  even  then  was  beginning 
weakly  to  quiver,  was  pushed  aside,  the  wildest  conjecture  could 
not  suggest.  After  half  a  minute's  pause  the  stone  moved,  or 
tried  to  move,  but  it  came  to  rest  again.  Then  very  slowly  and 
uncertainly  it  was  pushed  back  and  a  black  chasm  was  revealed. 
There  was  again  a  pause  of  thirty  seconds,  during  which  im- 
agination ran  riot,  but  I  do  not  think  that  any  other  thing  could 
have  been  as  intensely  pathetic  as  that  which  we  actually  saw. 
A  hand,  muffled  in  a  tightly  wound  piece  of  dirty  cloth,  for  all 
the  world  like  the  stump  of  an  arm,  was  painfully  thrust  up, 
and  very  weakly  it  felt  along  the  slab.  After  a  fruitless  fum- 
bling the  hand  slowly  quivered  back  again  into  the  darkness. 
A  few  moments  later  there  was  again  one  ineffectual  effort,  and 
then  the  stone  slab  moved  noiselessly  again  across  the  opening. 
Once  a  day,  water  and  an  unleavened  cake  of  flour  is  placed  for 
the  prisoner  upon  that  slab,  the  signal  is  given,  and  he  may  take 
it  in.  His  diversion  is  over  for  the  day,  and  in  the  darkness 
of  his  cell,  where  night  and  day,  moon,  sunset,  and  the  dawn, 
are  all  alike,  he— poor  soul!— had  thought  that  another  day  of 
his  long  penance  was  over. 

I  do  not  know  what  feelings  were  uppermost  at  that  moment 


w 


A  LONG-HAIRED  MONK  AT  HIS  MONASTERY 


LIFE  IN  A  TIBETAN  TOWN  109 

in  the  others,  but  I  know  that  a  physical  chill  struck  through  me 
to  the  marrow.  The  awful  pathos  of  that  painful  movement 
struggled  in  me  with  an  intense  shame  that  we  had  intruded  our- 
selves upon  a  private  misery ;  and  that  we  should  have  added  one 
straw  to  the  burden  borne  in  the  darkness  by  that  unseen  and  un- 
happy man  was  a  curiously  poignant  regret.  We  came  away, 
and  the  abbot  told  us  the  story  of  the  sect.  "  These  men,"  said 
the  abbot,  when  we  questioned  him,  "  live  here  in  this  mountain 
of  their  own  free  will;  a  few  of  them  are  allowed  a  little  light 
whereby  reading  is  possible,  but  these  are  the  weaker  brethren; 
the  others  live  in  darkness  in  a  square  cell  partly  hewn  out  of  the 
sharp  slope  of  the  rock,  partly  built  up,  with  the  window  just 
within  reach  of  their  upraised  hand.  There  are  three  periods  of 
this  immurement.  The  first  is  endured  for  six  months;  the  sec- 
ond, upon  which  a  monk  may  enter  at  any  time  he  pleases  or  not 
at  all,  is  for  three  years  and  ninety-three  days ;  the  third  and  last 
period  is  for  life.  Only  this  morning,"  said  the  abbot,  "  a  hermit 
died  here  after  having  lived  in  darkness  for  twenty-five  years." 
The  thing  was  almost  more  revolting  because  the  men  entered 
willingly  upon  it.  "  What  happens  when  they  are  ill  ?  "  O'Connor 
asked  the  abbot.  The  answer  came  concisely  enough,  "  They 
never  are."  It  is  true  that  when  pressed  he  qualified  this  state- 
ment a  little,  but  it  seemed  still  to  have  considerable  truth.  He 
himself  was  waiting  for  the  moment,  now  not  long  to  be  delayed, 
when  he  should  bid  his  final  farewell  to  the  world. 

Voluntary  this  self-immolation  is  said  to  be,  and  perhaps  tech- 
nically speaking  it  is  possible  for  the  pluckier  souls  to  refuse  to 
go  on  with  this  hideous  and  useless  form  of  self-sacrifice,  but  the 
grip  of  the  lamas  is  omnipotent,  and  practically  none  refuse. 
These  hermits  store  up  such  merit— for  themselves— by  these 
means  as  no  other  life  insures.  That  may  be  some  consolation  for 
a  Tibetan  mind ;  it  would  be  little  enough  for  any  one  else.  On 
our  return  the  children  in  the  courtyard  were  invested  with  a  ter- 


no  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

rible  pathos.  To  this  Hfe  of  painfully  useless  selfishness  they  are 
condemned,  and  the  very  difference  in  their  coiffure  is  one  more 
link  which  ties  down  their  young  lives.  After  their  first  immure- 
ment their  hair  is  allowed  to  grow,  and  the  sanctity  which  en- 
haloes  a  Nyen-de-kyi-buk  hermit,  whenever  recognized  by  his 
tresses,  effectually  prevents  his  turning  back.  He  is  a  marked 
man,  and,  as  in  so  many  other  cases  in  this  world,  he  ends  by 
doing  what  he  is  expected  to  do.  Our  horses  were  made  ready 
and  we  said  farewell  to  our  kindly  host  and  rode  away  into  the 
warmth  and  life  of  the  valley  in  silence. 

This  memory  still  makes  a  deeper  impression  than  one  thought 
possible  even  in  the  first  shock  of  the  moment.  Even  now  the 
silver  and  the  flowers  and  the  white  linen  and  the  crimson-shaded 
lights  of  a  dinner  table  are  sometimes  dimmed  by  a  picture  of  the 
same  hand  that  one  shook  so  warmly  as  one  left  the  monastery, 
now  weakly  fumbling  with  swathed  fingers  for  food  along  the 
slab  of  the  prison  in  which  the  abbot  now  is  sealed  up  for  life ;  for 
he  was  going  into  the  darkness  very  soon. 

At  Little  Gobshi  (one  had  to  distinguish  it  from  the  better 
known  Gobshi,  seventeen  miles  away  along  the  Lhasa  road)  there 
was,  and  now  probably  is  again,  the  finest  rug  factory  in  Tibet. 
A  large  two-storied  house  with  a  courtyard  was  filled  entirely 
with  the  weaving  looms  of  both  men  and  women  workers.  The 
patterns  used  are  native  Tibetan,  and  the  colors  are  excellently 
blended  and  rich  in  themselves.  It  is  difficult  for  them  to  make  a 
piece  of  stuff  wider  than  about  thirty  inches,  because  their  looms 
are  of  a  primitive  description,  scarcely  more  advanced  than  those 
of  the  Chumbi  Valley,  nor  do  they  attempt  to  make  a  pattern 
larger  than  can  be  contained  upon  a  single  width.  The  plain 
orange  and  maroon  rugs  are  made  in  narrow  strips  and  sewn  to- 
gether to  any  desired  width,  but  this  is  not  done  with  the  figured 
cloths.  The  difference  in  quality  between  one  rug  and  another  is 
often  a  matter  of  expert  knowledge  only.    At  first  one  is  surprised 


THE  WINDOW  OF  A  HERMIT  CELL  AT  NYEN-DE-KYI-BUK 


LIFE  IN  A  TIBETAN  TOWN  in 

and  inclined  to  resent  the  great  differences  in  the  price  of  these 
rugs ;  two  will  be  shown  you,  one  slightly  softer  in  the  pile,  per- 
haps also  slightly  looser  in  design.  You  will  get  that  for  three 
rupees.  The  other  one,  crisper  to  the  touch  and,  if  you  will  look 
closely,  far  richer  in  color,  they  will  not  sell  you  for  less  than 
twenty-five.  But  when  the  eye  is  once  taught  to  recognize  the 
difference,  the  cheaper  rugs  are  easily  seen  to  be  inferior  from 
every  point  of  view.  They  are,  however,  more  than  good 
enough  for  the  London  market,  and  this  is  one  of  the  indus- 
tries at  Gyantse  which  might  most  profitably  be  developed. 
Even  now  if  a  big  London  firm  were  willing  to  place  an  order  for 
five  hundred  rugs  in  Grobshi,  that  is  to  say,  if  it  were  to  buy  up 
practically  the  entire  annual  output  of  this  first  factory  in  Tibet, 
it  could,  while  it  held  the  monopoly,  charge  almost  any  price  it 
liked  to  London  buyers  and  obtain  it.  It  is  an  experiment  which 
is,  perhaps,  worth  the  attention  of  Farringdon  Street  Without.  In 
those  halcyon  days  at  Gyantse  I  wrote  to  Lord  Curzon  in  London 
and  offered  to  act  as  commercial  traveler  for  any  firm  which  cared 
to  make  a  trial  of  these  really  beautiful  things,  but  long  before  an 
answer  could  be  sent,  times  had  changed  and  we  were  prisoners 
in  Chang-lo. 

The  village  of  Gobshi,  which,  like  so  many  other  villages  in 
Tibet,  is  divided  into  two  entirely  distinct  parts,  separated  by  a 
waste  of  common-like  land  dotted  with  willow  thorn,  is  not  un- 
interesting. It  lies  comfortably  among  its  trees,  with  a  truant 
channel  of  the  main  river  plashing  lazily  over  hard  pebbles 
within  a  few  hundred  yards.  Overhanging  it  to  the  north  is  a 
very  sharp  conical  rock,  surmounted  by  an  orange-colored  build- 
ing, which  attracts  the  eye  from  afar.  This  is  the  residence  of  the 
local  magician.  He  only  resides  there  during  such  part  of  the 
year  as  the  young  crops  are  in  danger  from  damage  by  the  wea- 
ther. He  then  takes  up  his  residence,  and  is  ready  at  any  moment 
with  due  incantations  to  deliver  a  charm  against  lightning  or  hail 


112  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

to  a  timid  countryman.  The  charms  against  hail  are  large  cir- 
cular sheets,  adorned,  not  in  the  most  delicate  way,  with  figures 
of  the  four  Winds.  These  figures  are  represented  bound  and 
shackled,  to  signify  the  supernatural  power  exerted  by  the  magi- 
cian ;  pointing  at  them  from  the  inscribed  center  are  the  eight  in- 
struments of  power:  the  Dorje,  the  bow  and  arrow,  the  sword, 
the  double  purbu,  the  flame-like  knife,  the  scepter,  and  one  other 
thing  that  might  be  anything. 

These  magicians  occupy  a  very  curious  position.  They  are  all 
now  sanctioned  by  the  Gelukpa  hierarchy,  but  this  does  not  mean 
that  they  have  always  been  obedient  and  loyal  members  of  the 
orthodox  church.  As  a  matter  of  fact,  many  of  them  remain  dis- 
ciples of  the  Beun-pa,  or  aboriginal  devil  worshipers  of  the  coun- 
try. This  sect  is  bitterly  opposed  in  every  way  to  the  tenets  of 
Buddhism,  and  it  is  only  on  this  point  that  a  truce  has  been  pro- 
claimed. The  reason  of  this  is  clear  enough.  Successful  in  all 
other  ways,  the  Yellow  lamas  have  never  been  able  wholly  to 
transfer  to  themselves  by  the  exercise  of  wizardry  the  deepest  awe 
of  the  plain  village  peasants  of  Tibet.  These  men  continued  to 
pay  their  tribute  of  terror  to  the  old  autochthonous  sorcerer, 
whose  tradition  and  succession  were  undoubted.  The  authorities 
of  Lhasa  were  shrewd  enough  to  recognize  the  one  case  in  which 
the  invincible  ignorance,  which  they  deliberately  foster  in  their 
flock,  has  turned  to  their  own  harm.  They  accepted  and  indorsed 
the  magicians  of  the  countryside  en  bloc,  making  no  distinction 
of  creed.  By  these  means  the  sorcerer  works  hand  in  hand  with 
the  lamas  of  the  district,  and  thereout,  we  may  be  sure,  they  both 
suck  no  small  advantage.  There  is  in  Lhasa  the  head  of  all  these 
magicians,  but  it  is  necessary  at  this  moment  to  draw  a  sharp  line 
of  distinction  between  him,  a  responsible  and  revered  reincarna- 
tion—whose authority  is  hardly  less  than  that  of  the  Dalai  Lama, 
and  whose  position,  though  different,  is  scarcely  less  venerated — 
and  these  local  magicians,  whose  scope  is  very  different  from  his. 


LIFE  IN  A  TIBETAN  TOWN  113 

To  a  small  degree  every  great  gompa  in  Tibet  trades  upon  the 
influence  of  occultism  upon  the  Tibetan  peasants.  Charms  and 
written  mantras  are  by  no  means  issued  by  the  magicians  alone. 
The  katags,  which  lie  sometimes  in  heaped-up  confusion  over  the 
shoulders  of  the  chief  Buddha  of  a  monastery,  can  afterward  be 
sold  in  fragments,  and  few  relics  are  more  potent.  These  little 
charms,  to  which  reference  has  already  been  made,  are  worn 
round  the  neck,  in  what  the  Tibetans  call  a  gau-o.  These  are  little 
boxes,  of  silver  as  a  rule,  thickly  set  with  turquoise,  and  suspended 
round  the  neck  by  necklaces  of  beads ;  in  the  case  of  the  rich,  they 
may  be  fronted  with  gold,  but  this  metal  is  but  rarely  used  for  the 
rest  of  these  trinkets.  It  is  used  in  Tibet  in  a  singularly  pure  state, 
and  in  the  economical  amounts  with  which  the  Tibetans  are 
obliged  to  be  satisfied  would  not  be  strong  enough.  Men,  espe- 
cially when  going  on  some  dangerous  expedition,  carry  much 
larger  gau-os  of  copper,  upon  which  the  monogrammatic  symbol 
of  the  great  mantra  is  embossed  by  repousse  work.  These  also  are 
always  stuffed  with  relics  and  charms  of  different  kinds;  every- 
thing, it  might  almost  be  said,  in  Tibet  that  is  capable  of  being 
stuffed  is  full  of  these  little  luck-bringing  spells  or  charms.  The 
biggest  idols  are  packed  with  paper  and  silk  charms,  interspersed 
here  and  there  with  small  brass  images  and  occasionally  silver 
ones.  To  this  fact  unfortunately  the  destruction  of  several  of  the 
larger  idols — which  were  afterward  "  taboo  "  to  the  troops — was 
due  at  Gyantse.  Lieutenant-Colonel  Waddell  gives,  in  his  learned 
and  careful  work  upon  Lamaism,  a  large  number  of  instances  of 
the  cases  in  which  these  charms  are  used,  and  the  ritual  employed. 

One  odd  fact  came  under  our  notice.  The  charms  issued  from 
Lhasa  to  the  Tibetan  soldiers  opposing  our  advance  included  pro- 
tection against  almost  every  known  material  used  in  war.  After 
Guru,  some  of  the  wounded  who  were  being  tended  by  us  were 
asked  whether  their  faith  were  shaken  or  not ;  they,  in  some  sur- 
prise, entirely  repudiated  the  idea.    "  We  did  not  know  in  Lhasa 


114  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

what  metals  we  should  guard  ourselves  against :  lead  and  iron,  and 
steel  and  copper,  and  silver,  none  of  these  could  have  hurt  us ;  but 
we  did  not  even  know  that  there  was  a  metal  called  nickel ;  there- 
fore no  charm  was  given  us  to  protect  us  against  your  bullets." 
The  unwinding  of  a  grimy  little  silk-covered  packet  from  the  in- 
side of  a  gau-o  is  rather  an  interesting  occupation;  the  contents 
are  cleaner  than  might  be  thought.  One  of  the  oddest  things  I 
found  in  any  was  a  little  pebble  with  the  thumb  imprint  of  the 
Dalai  Lama  upon  it  in  vermilion.  Unfortunately  damp  had 
blurred  the  lines. 

The  prayers  printed  on  the  prayer-flags  of  Tibet  are  generally 
identical  in  arrangement  and,  perhaps,  also  in  the  words  of  the 
prayer.  In  Gyantse  I  bought  one  of  the  wood-blocks,  from  which 
these  flags  are  printed;  it  is  a  curious  piece  of  careful  and  not 
ineffective  wood  engraving.  It  is  about  sixteen  inches  in  length 
and  twelve  inches  in  width.  This  is  about  the  largest  size  that 
is  used ;  the  flag,  being  attached  to  the  mast  perpendicularly,  only 
allows  a  thin  upright  fringe  to  be  printed,  and  you  will  find  fifteen 
or  twenty  repetitions  of  the  same  prayer,  reaching  one  above  an- 
other all  the  way  up  the  mast.  These  "  flying  horses  "  (lung-ta) 
were  probably  mistaken  by  the  traveler  who  originated  the  idea 
that  the  Tibetans  sent  horses  to  belated  wayfarers  by  throwing  to 
the  winds  pieces  of  paper  with  the  figure  of  a  horse  printed  upon 
it.  It  is  quite  possible  that  this  may  actually  have  been  done,  but 
continued  inquiry  on  my  part  elicited  no  corroboration  whatever. 

To  return  to  the  country  surrounding  Gyantse.  The  monas- 
tery at  Dongtse,  twelve  miles  away  toward  Shigatse,  the  sacred 
residence  of  the  Sinchen  Lama,  was  visited  by  O'Connor,  Wilton, 
and  myself  very  soon  after  our  arrival  at  Chang-lo. 

The  road  to  Dongtse  serpentines  across  the  wide  level  plain  of 
the  Nyang  chu,  idly  acquiescing  in  the  obstacles  which  villages, 
water-courses,  field  boundaries,  chortens,  houses,  or  irrigation 


LIFE  IN  A  TIBETAN  TOWN  115 

ditches  throw  in  its  way.  The  patchwork  of  cultivated  fields, 
some  no  larger  than  allotments,  none  more  than  an  acre  in  area, 
reminds  one  of  high  farming  in  Berkshire,  so  jealously  is  every 
square  foot  made  to  serve  the  owners  and  grow  its  patch  of 
barley.  There  are  no  trees,  no  hedges,  not  even  a  weed.  The 
very  dikes  which  restrain  the  irrigation  channels  are  grudged 
from  the  rich,  dry,  gray  loam,  as  fertile  as  the  Darling  Downs. 

Agriculture  is  a  serious  business  with  the  Tibetans.  Here  and 
there,  but  very  rarely,  the  darkened  garnet  or  dirty  amber  of  a 
lama's  dress  adds  a  note  of  color  to  the  thirsty  stretch  of  alluvial 
soil,  fenceless  and  flat.  But  generally  the  work  is  done  by  quiet 
little  figures,  whose  patched  gray  dresses  are  blotted  out  among 
their  own  furrows  and  whose  very  existence  is  often  betrayed 
only  by  the  slow  plod  and  turn  of  the  scarlet  and  white  head- 
dressed  yaks  in  the  plow-yoke.  Among  these  people  there  is  no 
shyness,  scarcely  even  curiosity.  The  spring  work  has  to  be  done, 
and  there  is  no  one  but  themselves  to  do  it — perhaps  the  yaks  can 
only  be  borrowed  from  friend  Tsering  up  at  the  hamlet  for  this 
day;  perhaps,  too,  the  lamas  will  exact  their  corvee  to-morrow. 
And  there  is  much  to  do.  Meanwhile  these  strange  foreigners 
can  wait  to  be  inspected. 

Always,  of  course,  there  was  civility  as  we  rode  by.  The  Tib- 
etan peasant's  manners  are  perfect.  The  small  boy  jumps  off  the 
harrow  upon  which  he  has  been  having  a  ride,  and,  stopping  his 
song,  bows  with  his  joined  hands  in  front  of  his  face,  elbows  up, 
and  right  knee  bent.  A  householder  smiles,  exhibits  two  inches 
of  tongue,  and  gives  a  Napoleonic  salute  as  we  pass  by,  pulling 
his  cap  down  over  his  face  to  his  chest.  Rosy-backed  and 
breasted  sparrows  fly  in  a  twittering  company  before  us  through 
the  gray-white  sallowthorn  brake,  and  a  vivid  golden  wagtail 
flirts  his  tail  beside  a  puddle.  Redstarts  sit  on  the  top  of  prayer 
poles,  and  hoopoes  flash  black  and  white  wings  by  the  stream. 
Ruddy  sheldrake  and  bar-headed  geese  barely  move  aside  from  a 


,ii6  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

wet  patch  of  recent  plow-land  as  we  approach,  and  iridescent 
black-green  magpies,  half  as  large  again  as  our  English  luck- 
bringers,  keep  pace  beside  us  with  their  dipping  flight.  The  sun 
is  hard  and  vivid,  and  the  flat  plain  shivers  a  little  in  the  heat, 
confusing  the  lines  of  leafless  willows  beside  a  whitewashed  mill. 
There  is  promise  of  foliage,  but  no  more.  The  houses  are  streaked 
perpendicularly  with  wide  welts  of  Indian  red  and  ash-gray,  and 
long  strings  of  many-colored  little  flags  droop  between  their 
housetops  and  the  nearest  tree.  Tibetan  "  mastiffs  "  bark  from 
every  roof  until  the  housewife  quiets  them  with  a  stone.  She 
throws  better  than  her  European  sister,  in  spite  of  a  grimy  coral 
and  turquoise  halo  round  her  head  and  a  baby  on  her  left  arm. 

The  story  of  the  last  Sinchen  Lama  is  one  which  it  is  worth 
while  to  tell.  He  was  the  seventh  in  succiession  of  one  of  the 
most  important  secondary  reincarnations  of  Lamaism.  His  abode 
has  always  been  at  Dongtse,  but  his  predecessors  were  buried 
with  great  ceremony  each  under  a  gilded  chorten  at  Tashi-lhunpo, 
the  metropolis  of  the  province  of  Tsang.  The  last  Sinchen  Lama 
was  the  man  who  in  1882  received  Sarat  Chandra  Das,  and  ex- 
tended to  him  continual  patronage  and  hospitality.  In  the  narra- 
tive of  his  journey  the  famous  spy  refers  to  him  repeatedly  as 
"  the  minister."  He  was,  as  a  matter  of  fact,  minister  of  tem- 
poral affairs  of  the  province  of  Tsang  at  this  time,  and  a  most 
important  man.  On  his  way  to  his  first  interview  with  his  patron 
Chandra  Das  passed  in  the  market  place  of  Tashi-lhunpo  a  party 
of  prisoners  loaded  with  chains,  pinioned  by  wooden  clogs,  and  in 
some  cases  blinded.  It  was  an  ugly  omen  of  the  end.  To  the 
Sinchen  Lama's  influence  Chandra  Das  owed  the  facilities  which 
enabled  him  eventually  to  make  his  way  to  Lhasa,  and  that  he 
was  not  ungrateful  is  clear  in  every  line  in  which  he  refers  to  his 
patron.  The  minister  seems  to  have  been  in  his  way  strangely 
like  that  enlightened  Grand  Lama  of  Tashi-lhunpo  who  received 
Bogle  in  1774;  he  was  anxious  to  improve  his  knowledge  of  the 


LIFE   IN   A   TIBETAN   TOWN  117 

world,  and  especially  of  English  affairs;  he  even  attempted  to 
learn  our  language,  and  he  seems  throughout  to  have  been  a 
broad-minded,  intelligent,  and  sympathetic  man,  Chandra  Das 
stayed  with  him  for  some  time  at  Dongtse,  on  his  way  to  Lhasa. 
A  year  or  two  after  Chandra  Das  had  returned  to  India  the  truth 
leaked  out  about  his  individuality.  The  Lhasan  Government 
threw  the  entire  blame  upon  the  carelessness  of  the  authorities  in 
the  province  of  Tsang.  Upon  the  Sinchen  Lama  they  visited 
their  anger  in  a  fearful  manner.  His  servants  were  taken— all 
except  one — they  were  beaten,  their  hands  and  feet  were  cut  off, 
their  eyes  were  gouged  out,  and  they  were  left  to  die  in  the  streets 
of  Tashi-lhunpo.  The  Sinchen  Lama  was  reserved  for  another 
fate.  He  was  taken  to  Gong-kar,  a  fort  on  the  right  bank  of  the 
Tsahg-po,  a  few  miles  below  the  confluence  of  the  Kyi-chu. 

The  rest  of  the  story  must  be  told  as  it  is  believed  by  the  com- 
mon people,  who  had  known  and  loved  the  Lama  in  his  life.  A 
message  was  received  from  Lhasa  to  the  effect  that  the  Sinchen 
Lama  must  commit  suicide.  This  he  quietly  refused  to  do.  He 
said,  "  I  am  indeed  in  your  hands;  you  will  do  with  me  what 
seems  good  to  you.  But  I  will  not  kill  myself,  and  if  you  kill  me, 
you  will  incur  for  yourselves  a  terrible  reincarnation."  This  an- 
swer produced  another  peremptory  demand  that  the  Lama  should 
lay  violent  hands  upon  himself.  To  this  the  Lama  made  no  re- 
ply at  all.  The  days  went  on,  and  at  last  the  authorities  in  Lhasa 
determined  to  take  his  life,  though  they  still  hoped  that  they 
might  avoid  the  awful  consequences  to  themselves  of  blood- 
guiltiness.  A  boat  was  taken,  and  innumerable  holes  of  different 
sizes  were  bored  in  her.  In  this  the  Lama  was  placed,  and  he  was 
sent  spinning  down  the  current  of  the  great  river.  Thus  he  would 
be  drowned,  but  to  the  ingenious  minds  of  the  hierarchy  it  seemed 
that  the  responsibility  lay  perhaps  with  their  victim,  whose  weight 
would  have  sunk  the  unseaworthy  craft.  Blood,  at  any  rate,* 
would  not  have  been  spilled.    But  the  Lama  was  in  no  way  dis- 


ii8  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

mayed ;  he  raised  a  prayer,  and  fishes  innumerable  came ;  they  in- 
truded their  blunt  noses  into  the  holes  in  the  boat,  and  slowly  pro- 
pelled it  safely  to  the  shore.  The  Lama  disembarked  and  walked 
quietly  back  to  his  prison.  The  news  of  this  miracle  produced 
but  momentary  consternation  in  Lhasa ;  the  brute  creation  might 
indeed  be  at  the  orders  of  this  holy  man,  but  die  he  must;  they 
must  try  another  way.  Therefore,  almost  immediately,  another 
attempt  was  made;  large  rocks  of  granite  were  bound  upon  his 
back,  and  he  was  once  more  thrown  into  the  river.  But  again 
they  had  reckoned  unwisely.  If  the  Sinchen  Lama's  life  were  to 
be  taken,  the  sin  of  murder  must  accompany  it.  This  was  the 
eternal  law,  and  as  the  sainted  Lama's  body  touched  the  water,  the 
rocks  were  turned  into  pumice  stone,  and  his  friendly  fishes  soon 
nuzzled  him  again  to  shore.  Thereafter  Lhasa  grew  desperate. 
They  sent  a  wicked  man,  a  Kashmiri  Mohammedan,  for  whom 
the  prospect  of  reincarnation  as  a  louse  had  no  terrors,  and  the 
Sinchen  Lama's  head  was  hacked  from  his  body.^ 

Nor  was  this  all.  Having  destroyed  the  body,  the  hierarchy 
at  Lhasa  proceeded  to  annihilate  the  soul.  No  further  reincar- 
nation of  the  Sinchen  Lama  has  been  recognized  from  that  day. 
In  the  long  gallery  of  reincarnated  Bodisats  who  occupy  the  chief 
place  of  Lamaism  there  is  one  frame,  as  there  is  in  the  Venetian 
ducal  palace,  blank  and  empty.  This  has  been  a  very  serious 
trouble  to  the  good  people  of  Dongtse,  and  they  are  apparently 
not  without  sympathizers  at  Lhasa.  A  few  years  after  the  mur- 
der of  their  loved  Lama  a  child  was  admitted  into  the  Ga-den 
monastery.  He  had  been  born  immediately  after  the  crime,  and 
to  the  awe-struck  amazement  of  the  ruling  lamas  he  exhibited  the 
one  final  proof  of  Sinchen  Lamaship.  His  left  kneecap  was  ab- 
sent.   That  child  lives  still,  and  in  sullen  determination  the  peo- 

^  This  is  the  native  tale,  and  it  is  almost  a  pity  to  correct  it  in  any  particu- 
lar. Another  story  is  that  the  Sinchen  Lama  with  his  hands  tied  behind  him 
was  thrown  into  the  river  and  never  seen  again.. 


LIFE   IN   A   TIBETAN   TOWN  119 

pie  of  Dongtse  are  but  waiting  till  their  Lama  shall  be  restored 
to  them.  Meanwhile  Dongtse  is  in  a  parlous  state.  Its  religious 
life  has  been  broken  into  and  a  stranger  imported  from  another 
province  to  rule  over  them.  Down  in  the  town  below  affairs  are 
no  better.  The  Pala  family  which  reigned  in  the  great  palace  un- 
derneath the  hill  is  exiled  and  expropriated.  A  government 
chanzi,  or  bailiff,  collects  the  rents  and  pays  them  over  to  the 
man  who  by  auction  obtained  the  beneficiary  rights  of  the  de- 
posed family.  At  Dongtse  it  is  said  that  those  rents  are  paid  over 
to  a  member  of  the  family,  and  certainly  the  local  bailiff  seems  to 
be  in  a  difficult  position,  for  the  offense  for  which  the  Pala  family 
was  banished  was  merely  that  of  having  abetted  the  late  Regent  in 
retaining  temporal  power  in  his  hands  after  the  coming  of  age 
of  the  Dalai  Lama.  At  any  moment,  therefore,  the  Pala  family 
may  be  reinstated  in  their  property  with  unpleasant  powers  of 
retaliation. 

Our  small  party — one  of  us  the  only  servant  of  the  Sinchen 
Lama  who  had  escaped  death — reached  Dongtse  about  noon,  and 
immediately  climbed  the  hill  on  which  the  monastery  stands ;  we 
were  received  with  the  greatest  friendliness  by  the  abbot,  and  one 
or  two  of  the  senior  monks.  The  great  temple  was  hardly  as 
richly  endowed  with  silver  and  jeweled  ornaments  as  we  had  been 
told.  It  was  curious  to  watch  the  Shebdung  Lama  as  he  wandered 
round  the  old  familiar  halls.  For  many  years  he  had  been  an  ex- 
ile, and  he  had  never  believed  that  he  would  see  the  home  of  his 
loved  master  again,  and  as  he  put  his  forehead  on  the  lip  of  the 
lotus  throne,  upon  which  the  great  Buddha  of  the  place  was 
seated,  and  so  remained  motionless  for  ten  seconds,  there  must 
have  passed  through  his  mind  something  strangely  like  Nunc 
dimittis  Domine.  For  this  man's  love  for  his  murdered  master 
after  eighteen  years  is  still  as  fresh  to-day  as  when  they  lived  at 
peace  on  this  hillside  of  the  Nyang  chu  Valley,  and  in  all  the 
time  since,  the  Shebdung  Lama's  only  happiness  has  been  bound 


I20  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

up  with  the  memories  of  his  life  here.  He  could  hardly  speak  as 
we  entered  the  shrine,  and  was  again  visibly  affected  when  we 
ascended  to  the  actual  rooms  occupied  by  the  Sinchen  Lama. 

•  These  consist  of  a  set  of  well-painted  chambers,  opening  out 
one  from  another.  In  the  main  room,  still  empty  and  forlorn, 
save  for  a  table  containing  a  hundred  little  brass  bowls  filled  with 
water,  there  is  one  of  the  strangest  things  in  Tibet.  The  Sinchen 
Lama,  continuing  the  series  of  his  ancestors  painted  round  the 
wall,  had  also  a  record  of  his  own  life  and  ministry  painted  in  a 
series  of  scenes  by  an  artist.  His  own  portraiture  is  encircled  by 
these  little  pictures ;  the  figure  of  the  Lama  is  purely  conventional, 
a  mild-eyed,  celestial  face  with  a  pursed  up  rosebud  mouth. 
Round  him  there  is  a  series  of  stiff  little  drawings  not  without 
some  strength,  recording  from  his  birth,  passage  by  passage,  the 
events  of  his  momentous  life.  Now  these  were  painted  in  the 
happy  days  before  Chandra  Das  came. 

At  the  end  of  this  record  there  is  the  strange  thing.  There  is 
in  a  corner  the  picture  of  a  fortified  house,  and,  above  it,  the  pic- 
ture of  a  man  who  has  been  thrown  into  a  stream  of  water.  But 
there  is  no  such  appended  written  description  as  may  be  seen  be- 
neath other  scenes  depicted  on  the  wall.  The  artist  requested  him 
to  dictate  the  legend  for  these  two  pictures.  The  Lama  refused ; 
he  said,  "  These  two  incidents  shall  remain  undescribed ;  one  day 
you  will  understand."  We  were  assured  there  that  the  house 
painted  on  the  wall  bears  a  strong  resemblance  to  Gong-kar  jong ; 
the  meaning  of  the  last  scene  is  obvious  enough.  There  the  two 
pictures  are,  and  in  its  main  lines  the  story  must  be  a  true  one,  but 
it  is  difficult  to  explain. 

Immediately  beyond  this  series  of  pictures  is  the  most  touching 
thing  I  have  seen  in  the  country.  In  sheer  gratitude  to  the  only 
companion  of  his  lonely  exaltation,  far  removed  from  the  com- 
mon friendship  of  men,  the  Sinchen  Lama  had  painted  upon  the 
wall  his  little  shaggy-haired  dog,  feeding  out  of  a  blue  and  white 


LIFE  IN  A  TIBETAN   TOWN  121 

china  bowl.  I  do  not  know  that  anything  in  the  record  of  this 
man  could  tell  the  story  of  his  kindly  sympathy  and  humanity  so 
well  as  this  ill-drawn  little  figure. 

We  spent  an  hour  or  two  there,  and  had  tea,  both  with  the 
abbot  of  the  monastery  and  with  the  occupants  of  the  Pala  palace 
in  the  town  below ;  then  we  set  off  for  home  in  the  middle  of  the 
afternoon,  facing  south-east  to  where  the  high  fort-crowned  peak 
of  Gyantse  rose  indistinctly,  amid  the  daily  driving  dust-storm 
which  wrapped  its  base  and  indeed  all  the  valley  in  a  tawny  fog. 

Ne-nyeng — or,  as  it  was  invariably  known,  Nai-ni — was  an- 
other place  which  was  afterward  to  become  of  great  interest  and 
importance  to  us.  Seven  miles  away  to  the  south,  just  before 
the  valley  opened  out  from  the  gorges  of  the  Nyang  chu,  it 
commanded  our  road  to  India,  and  was  the  scene  three  or  four 
times  of  fighting  between  the  Tibetans  and  ourselves.  Ne- 
nyeng  lies  in  an  amphitheater  of  steep  hills;  looking  at  it  from 
across  the  river  the  sight  was  typically  Eastern,  and  might  have 
been  a  theater  "  back-cloth,"  painted  with  the  deliberate  intention 
of  including  every  suggestion  of  the  Orient;  but  he  would  have 
been  a  clever  man  who  limned  such  a  scene  as  this.  All  round 
this  half-circle  of  converging  spurs  the  plain  hot  rock  glared  at 
one.  The  line  cut  by  its  upper  cornices  against  the  sky  was 
harsh  and  exact.  The  blue  that  descended  into  the  ravines  and 
arched  the  peaks  was  cloudless  and  whitened;  on  one  conical 
hill,  almost  inaccessible,  sat  a  square  yellow  block-house  com- 
manding the  town  from  a  height  of  a  thousand  feet.  A  little 
lower  down,  when  the  eye  got  used  to  the  glare,  another  and 
stronger  fort,  built  of  the  very  rock  on  which  it  rested,  could 
just  be  made  out  by  the  straightness  of  its  lines.  In  the  middle 
of  this  great  recess  the  river  flats  stretched  white  and  dusty, 
draining  down  by  a  slackening  gradient  from  the  clefts  of  the 
amphitheater.     Just  where  it  gained  its  equilibrium,  Ne-nyeng 


122  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

rose  in  a  garden  of  greenery.  The  square  white  houses  bhnked 
in  the  sun,  the  high  unchecked  line  of  the  square  building  in 
the  center  of  the  town,  half  monastery,  half  keep,  showed  up 
dustily  above  the  flat  roofs  of  the  houses,  which  cling  to  it  for 
protection. 

Between  us  and  the  town  the  sweeping  river  cuts  its  way, 
leaving  perpendicular  banks  of  pebbled  banquette  purple  in  the 
shades  and  amber  in  the  sun,  for  all  the  world  like  the  moldings 
of  a  clustered  Gothic  pillar.  We  had  little  to  do  with  the  in- 
habitants, except  in  an  unpleasant  manner.  Now  and  again 
they  fired  upon  our  mail  runners,  and  eventually  the  place  had 
to  be  cleared  when  the  relieving  force  was  nearing  Gyantse. 
There  was  in  this  monastery,  if  some  of  the  reports  are  to  be 
believed,  a  reincarnation  in  the  form  of  a  little  girl,  of  about 
six  years  old.  We  never  heard  anything  more  about  her;  the 
story  seems  unlikely,  because  there  was  no  nunnery  in  the  place. 
The  only  monastery  over  which  a  woman  presides  in  Tibet  is 
that  of  Sam-ding,  where  the  Phag-mo  Dorje  was  reigning  many 
centuries  before  the  coming  of  the  "  new  woman  "  in  the  West. 

In  this  connection  one  thing  was  frankly  admitted  by  the  Tib- 
etans. We  were  often  surprised  to  find  the  monasteries  stripped 
of  their  valuable  and  most  precious  ornaments  upon  our  arrival. 
Without  any  hesitation  the  monks  would  admit  that  they  had 
all  been  taken  away,  and  put  in  the  nearest  nunnery,  because, 
they  said,  the  English  people  do  not  attack  women,  and  do  not 
enter  nunneries.  It  was  a  simple  device  and  one  that  implied 
no  small  compliment. 


CHAPTER  VIII 

ATTACKED  BY  THE  TIBETANS 

COLONEL  YOUNGHUSBAND  occupied  Chang-lo  on  the 
19th  of  April  with  a  force  of  about  four  hundred  and 
fifty  men.  He  had  also  about  fifty  mounted  infantry,  two  Max- 
ims, and  two  ancient  seven-pounder  field-pieces,  now  officially 
discarded,  which,  in  their  popular  nicknames  "  Bubble  and 
Squeak,"  were  at  once  described  and  appraised.  This  force  was 
amply  sufficient  to  defend  the  place  against  any  attack  that  the 
Tibetans  could  deliver.  They,  however,  seemed  in  no  way  will- 
ing to  test  the  defensibility  of  Chang-lo;  and  nothing  could 
have  been  more  peaceful  than  the  reception  of  the  British  force, 
not  at  Gyantse  only,  but  for  a  score  of  miles  up  and  down  the 
valley.  It  is  true,  that  for  our  expeditions  beyond  the  imme- 
diate neighborhood  of  the  post,  two  or  three  mounted  infantry 
were  always  taken  as  an  escort,  but  we  imagined  no  danger,  and 
nothing  seemed  less  probable  than  that  which  actually  occurred. 
I  am  quite  certain  that  the  events  of  the  5th  of  May  were  not 
less  surprising — and  a  great  deal  more  dismaying — to  the  good 
people  of  Gyantse  than  they  were  to  ourselves.  In  the  last  chap- 
ter I  have  described  one  or  two  visits  paid  somewhat  far  afield 
in  the  Nyang  chu  Valley,  and  it  will  be  clear  that  nothing  could 
have  exceeded  the  hospitality  and,  in  most  cases,  the  welcome 
which  we  received.  At  Gyantse  itself,  the  friendliness  of  the  in- 
habitants was  almost  excessive.  We  afterward  found  that  from 
the  date  of  our  expedition  till  the  4th  of  May,  the  servants 
of  the  Mission  (who  were  unavoidably  under  less  strict  mili- 

123 


124  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

tary  surveillance  than  other  followers)  not  infrequently  spent 
the  entire  night  within  the  town  enjoying  themselves  among 
their  Tibetan  kin,  with  results  on  the  following  morning 
which  were  more  natural  than  edifying.  It  need  not  be  said 
that  as  soon  as  this  was  discovered  the  military  authorities  made 
a  severe  example  of  the  chief  offenders.  Shopping  in  Gyantse 
was  an  almost  daily  amusement.  The  great  Palkhor-choide 
monastery  was  willingly  opened  to  us  by  the  abbot,  and  the  mem- 
bers of  the  Mission  looked  forward  to  a  pleasant  two  months' 
stay  in  one  of  the  most  interesting  cities  of  Tibet,  and  a  full 
enjoyment  of  the  extraordinary  opportunities  which  the  undis- 
guised friendliness  of  our  neighbors  promised. 

More  than  this.  Captain  Walton,  the  surgeon  and  natural 
history  expert  attached  to  the  Mission,  had  invited  the  Tibetans 
to  make  the  fullest  use  of  his  own  skill  and  the  medical  equip- 
ment of  the  Mission;  and,  as  a  result,  he  soon  had  as  many 
cases  as  he  could  deal  with.  By  preference  he  selected  cases 
requiring  surgical  treatment,  and  many  unfortunate  wretches 
disabled  by  cataract  or  disfigured  by  a  particularly  hideous  form 
I      of  hare-lip,  which  is  common  in  Tibet,  were  relieved  by  him. 

Everything  was  peaceful.  There  was  not  a  cloud  on  the  ho- 
rizon. The  dak  ran  through  from  the  Chumbi  Valley  without 
interruption,  day  after  day.  The  British  intruders  had  given 
commissions  freely  in  the  town,  and  the  local  artists  were  work- 
ing overtime  to  execute  orders  for  "  tang-kas."  Carpenters  from 
Pala  attended  daily  in  the  compound  and  worked  from  morn  to 
night  upon  the  furniture  needed  for  the  post.  Their  use  of  tools, 
by  the  way,  which  seemed  in  most  cases  to  be  of  European  origin, 
was  extremely  quick  and  certain,  and  the  work  which  the  adze 
was  made  to  do  would  have  surprised  the  British  carpenter. 
Planes,  saws,  bradawls,  and,  in  rare  cases,  chisels,  were  also 
used;  but  nothing  showed  originality  or  suggested  any  device 
that  might  possibly  be  used  to  advantage  at  home  except  a  little 


ATTACKED   BY   THE   TIBETANS  125 

machine,  simple,  ingenious,  and  compact,  for  marking  a  straight 
line  upon  wood  by  means  of  a  thread  loaded  with  black  pigment. 
Gardeners  also  were  called  in,  and  the  courtyard  in  front  of 
the  Commissioner's  tent  was  carefully  dug  up,  divided  into 
beds,  and  manured.  There  the  seeds  which  the  Mission  had 
brought  from  home  were  hopefully  planted,  and  beans,  peas, 
cabbages,  scarlet-runners,  onions,  and  mustard-and-cress  were 
sown  with  an  almost  religious  care — in  return  for  which,  it 
must  be  confessed  that  only  the  last-mentioned  vegetables  pro- 
duced any  return.  Still,  the  experiment  was  well  worth  making, 
and,  incidentally,  it  had  the  effect  of  laying  the  dust  in  the  com- 
pound—by no  means  a  slight  blessing.  To  tend  this  garden  a 
worthy  Tibetan  lady,  with  her  two  husbands,  was  hired;  and 
if  her  treatment  of  her  brother-spouses  was  characteristic  of 
Tibetan  domesticity  as  a  whole  there  is  perhaps  more  to  be  said 

• 

for  this  strange  custom  than  a  somewhat  bigotedly  monogamous 
nation  like  England  could  be  expected  at  first  sight  to  admit. 
"  Mrs.  Wiggs,"  as  she  at  once  came  to  be  known,  was  certainly 
the  moving  spirit  in  her  own  domestic  circle,  and  the  work  that 
she  got  out  of  her  pair  of  semi-imbecile  husbands  was  quite  ex- 
traordinary. 

Outside  the  compound  a  bazaar  was  dail^  held,  and  over  one 
hundred  Tibetan  men  and  women  made  it  a  daily  practice  to 
come  with  the  small  commodities  of  the  place  and  spend  a  cheer- 
ful and,  probably,  not  unlucrative  morning  in  chaffering  with 
the  Sikhs  and  Gurkhas  of  the  garrison.  The  afternoon  weather, 
but  for  clouds  of  dust  that  blew  eastward  from  Dongtse,  was 
perfect;  and  though  the  trees  were  long  in  showing  the  first 
sign  of  spring,  the  lot  of  the  Mission  seemed  cast  in  a  fair 
ground  indeed. 

While  everything  round  us  was  pointing  toward  peace  and 
good-will,  the  action  of  Colonel  Brander  in  clearing  the  Karo  la 
Pass  needs  some  explanation.     A  week  after  our  arrival  the 


126  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

rumor  came  from  a  trustworthy  source  that  the  Tibetans  were 
fortifying  this  pass ;  but  as  we  had  never  deceived  ourselves  into 
believing  that  our  presence  in  the  country  was  even  acqui- 
esced in  at  Lhasa,  the  news  was  neither  surprising  nor  dis- 
quieting. The  pass,  or  rather  the  actual  position  across  which 
the  wall  was  being  built,  was  over  forty-five  miles  from  Gyantse, 
and  at  the  moment  it  lay  somewhat  outside  the  sphere  of  bur 
immediate  interest.  Round  us  at  Gyantse,  there  was,  as  I  have 
said,  every  indication  of  perfect  tranquillity,  and  even  welcome. 
All  up  and  down  the  valley  agricultural  work  had  been  resumed, 
and  there  is  no  doubt  that  somewhere  about  this  time  the  men 
of  Shigatse  definitely  refused  to  obey  the  orders  of  the  Dalai 
Lama  to  take  the  field  again  against  us.  Another  matter  which 
made  it  even  almost  impossible  that  there  should  be  any  immedi- 
ate friction  was  the  fact  that  the  Amban  himself  had  received, 
and  was  still  considering,  an  invitation  to  negotiate  at  Gyantse. 
Matters,  however,  seemed  somewhat  affected  by  news  which 
came  in  by  a  special  despatch  rider  on  May  ist — that  a  reconnoi- 
tering  party  of  ours,  with  a  mounted  escort  of  fifty  men,  had 
been  fired  upon  two  days  previously  from  the  Tibetan  fortifica- 
tion. The  affair  in  itself  was  not  perhaps  of  the  highest  impor- 
tance. Our  own  intentions  were  entirely  peaceful,  and  we  had 
found  no  unfriendliness  at  any  point  on  the  journey  to  the  Karo 
la.  We  sustained  no  casualties,  though  the  sudden  heart  failure 
of  one  of  the  Sikhs  at  the  unaccustomed  altitude  was  naturally 
hailed  by  the  jeering  Tibetans  as  proof  of  the  skill  of  their 
marksmen.  We  made  no  reply  except  two  or  three  shots  to  keep 
down  the  enemy's  fire  while  we  retired;  we  inflicted  no  casual- 
ties.^ But,  though  unimportant  in  itself,  this  encounter  was  not 
without  its  significance.  In  the  first  place,  it  put  an  end  finally 
to  any  hope  of  the  Amban  coming  to  negotiate  at  Gyantse,  and, 

Of  this,  however,  I  am  uncertain.     It  was  afterward  said 
in  Lhasa  that  two  were  killed. 


ATTACKED    BY   THE   TIBETANS  127 

though  this  refusal  was  not  unexpected,  the  disinclination  of 
Lhasa  to  take  any  steps  whatever  to  open  up  amicable  relations 
with  us  was  hereby  exhibited  in  a  somewhat  unmistakable  man- 
ner. Nor  was  this  all.  From  the  Karo  la  toward  Gyantse,  ten  or 
twelve  miles  of  an  easy  route  brings  one  to  Ra-lung.  At  Ra- 
lung  there  is  a  division  of  the  way,  the  main  road  running  thence 
westerly  to  Gyantse  and  ultimately  to  Shigatse.  It  is,  in  fact, 
part  of  the  main  thoroughfare  between  the  two  capitals  of  Tibet. 
From  Ra-lung  another  road  runs  due  south-west  through  Nyero 
to  Kang-ma,  and  upon  this  road  we  had  no  post.  It  was  at 
once  obvious  that  the  defenders  of  the  wall  on  the  Karo  la 
might,  entirely  unknown  to  us,  move  in  two  days  upon  our 
line  of  communication  to  the  south  and  cause  us  serious  in- 
convenience by  the  re-occupation  of  Kang-ma.  The  position, 
therefore,  was,  that  while  we  had  no  fear  of  the  least  unfriendli- 
ness in  the  Nyang  chu  Valley,  Lhasa  was  obviously  prepared 
to  withstand  us  by  force  of  arms,  and  might  at  any  time  compel 
us  seriously  to  weaken  the  little  garrison  at  Gyantse  in  order  ' 
to  relieve  the  post  at  Kang-ma,  and  re-obtain  control  of  our  com- 
munications. 

There  was,  however,  an  understanding  with  Lhasa  that,  until 
negotiations  at  Gyantse  were  shown  to  be  impossible,  we  should 
not  move  further  along  the  route  to  the  capital.  The  detach- 
ment of  a  force  sufficient  to  clear  the  Karo  la  would,  moreover, 
cripple  the  garrison  at  Chang-lo;  nor  could  we  possibly  hold 
the  pass,  although  we  might  without  great  loss  secure  it  for  the 
moment.  On  the  one  hand  it  might  be  argued  that  our  prestige, 
as  well  as  our  line  of  communications,  was  in  danger,  and  that 
the  presence  of  a  large  and  well-armed  body  of  Tibetans  hold- 
ing the  best  strategical  position  between  Gyantse  and  Lhasa  might 
speedily  undermine  the  existing  friendliness  of  our  neighbors. 
On  the  other  hand  there  is  no  doubt  that  popular  opinion  in 
England  would  have  been  seriously  affected  by  the  news  that  we 


128  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

had  again  assumed  the  offensive  unless,  of  course,  the  necessity 
were  overwhelming. 

Such  was  the  situation  with  which  Colonel  Younghusband 
had  to  deal  when  Colonel  Brander,  commanding  the  post,  laid 
before  him  an  urgent  request  that  he  would  sanction  the  imme- 
diate dispersal  of  the  fifteen  hundred  Tibetans  who  had  been 
located  at  the  Karo  la.  One  of  the  difficulties  which  every  ex- 
pedition subject  to  a  twin  control  must  experience  is  the  ex- 
treme reluctance  of  the  political  authorities  to  interfere  in  the 
slightest  degree  with  the  operations  of  their  responsible  mili- 
tary escort.  Colonel  Younghusband  appreciated  to  the  full  the 
pros  and  cons  of  this  proposal,  and,  in  giving  his  unreserved 
assent  to  Colonel  Brander's  suggestion,  he  was  no  doubt  in- 
fluenced by  the  conviction  that  all  chance  of  negotiation  at  Gy- 
antse  was  not  only  at  an  end,  but  had  never  really  existed.  At 
all  costs  the  Tibetans  must  be  made  to  respect  our  strength, 
and  against  such  an  enemy  as  we  had  before  us,  the  effect  of 
a  successful  blow  might  at  any  time  turn  the  scales  and  convince 
them  that  further  active  opposition  to  our  advance  was  a  mere 
act  of  folly.  Colonel  Younghusband  therefore  consented,  and 
accordingly,  on  the  3d  of  May,  Colonel  Brander,  with  two  com- 
panies of  the  32d  Pioneers,  one  company  of  Gurkhas,  two  Max- 
ims, and  almost  the  entire  force  of  mounted  infantry,  moved 
out  to  Gobshi,  seventeen  miles  on  the  road  to  the  Karo  la.  As 
they  set  forth  news  arrived  that  Tibetan  troops  were  moving  up 
the  Nyang  chu  Valley  to  occupy  Dongtse,  a  post  which,  it  will 
be  remembered,  lies  twelve  miles  west  of  Gyantse.  Almost  at 
the  same  moment  a  despatch  was  received  from  the  Amban,  say- 
ing that  the  Dalai  Lama  had  definitely  refused  either  to  satisfy 
his  demand  for  transport,  or  to  answer  his  request  that  a  properly 
qualified  Tibetan  should  be  empowered  to  deal  with  the  ques- 
tions in  dispute  between  the  British  and  himself. 

Colonel  Brander  moved  rapidly  on.  At  Gobshi  he  found  the 
headman  of  the  village  seriously  disquieted,  and,  though  he  had 


ATTACKED   BY   THE.  TIBETANS  129 

no  difficulty  in  obtaining  what  he  wanted,  the  wretched  villagers 
clearly  realized  their  position  between  the  devil  and  the  deep 
sea.  Gobshi  itself  is  a  picturesque  village  with  an  untenable 
jong,  perched  upon  a  tooth  of  rock  half  a  mile  from  the  Chinese 
post-house,  which  had  attracted  to  it  the  little  community  of  the 
"  Four  Gates."  As  a  matter  of  fact,  if  ever  a  village  deserved 
the  name  of  "  Three  Gates  "  it  is  Gobshi,  for  there,  hopelessly 
shut  in  by  mountain  spurs  and  heights  almost  precipitous,  three 
roads,  from  Gyantse,  Nyero,  and  Ra-lung  respectively,  meet 
abruptly.  Here  the  Ra-lung  chu  joins  the  Nyero  chu,  and 
shortly  below  "  waters  meet "  the  little  town  sits  precariously 
on  the  edge  of  the  river  cliff,  at  the  end  of  a  wide  alluvial  terrace, 
a  mile  in  length,  which  presents,  perhaps,  the  best  instance  of 
successful  cultivation  that  one  can  see  from  the  road  for  eighteen 
miles.  From  this  place  until  it  descends  steeply  into  the  valley 
of  the  Tsang-po,  cereal  crops  will  not  ripen,  though  here  and 
there  they  can  be  used  for  fodder.  After  a  hasty  inspection  of 
the  Chinese  rest-house  it  was  unanimously  decided  to  make  no 
use  of  its  grimy  and  obviously  populous  accommodation. 

On  the  next  day  Colonel  Brander  moved  on  up  the  right  bank 
of  the  Ra-lung-po.  Threading  his  way  over  the  two  bridges  just 
above  the  confluence  of  the  rivers,  he  came  in  two  miles  through 
the  gorge  and  out  into  the  easier  road  which  makes  its  way 
through  the  poor  fields  of  the  Ra-lung  Valley.  The  first  place 
one  passes  is  the  Kamo  monastery,  a  strange  community,  in 
which  the  monks  and  nuns  live  a  common  life  together — a  thing 
permitted  by  the  Dalai  Lama  and  one  that  causes  no  great  scan- 
dal even  among  the  strictest  disciples  of  Lamaism,  though  it 
is  regarded  as  a  concession  to  the  weaker  brethren.  This  part 
of  Tibet  has  a  Red  Cap  colony,  and  the  ash-gray,  white,  and 
Indian-red  perpendicular  stripes  that  characterize  the  buildings 
of  this  community  form  for  miles  a  peculiarity  in  the  landscape 
and  strikingly  relieve  its  monotony. 

Of  that  monotony,  the  dead  sameness  of  mountain  tracks 


I30  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

across  the  top  of  the  world,  it  is  hard  to  give  any  idea.  The 
blue  sky,  of  a  clearness  and  depth  of  color  that  no  less  altitude 
can  give,  vaults  over  the  slippery  hill-sides  between  which  the 
thin  stream  cataracts  or  spreads  itself  in  runlets  across  a  waste 
of  sand.  There  is  no  verdure  at  that  time  of  the  year  except 
that  which  is  artificially  grown  on  the  river-flats  where  the 
valley  is  wide  enough.  Rich  umber  and  light  red,  seamed  and 
filmed  with  gray  purples  of  the  clefts;  bald  ocher  of  spurs  that 
thrust  the  water  from  their  feet;  bare  red  of  whip-like  willows 
growing  over  a  mud  wall;  coarse  grit-colored  road,  here  gray- 
ish with  slate,  here  dun  with  granite,  there  again  rufous  with 
a  floor  of  limestone — these  are  all  the  colors  except  here  and 
there,  when  one  meets  a  hurrying  lama,  wrapped  in  his  habit  of 
dull  maroon.  As  the  sun  sets  the  richer  pigments,  beaten  all 
day  by  his  rays  into  the  hot  hill-sides,  are  cooled  out  of  the 
rocks;  and  as  the  sunlight  is  slowly  lost  in  the  valleys  below 
a  faint  orange  gauze  spreads  and  reddens  into  carmine  on  the  far 
snowy  peaks  to-  the  northeast. 

One  side  of  the  river  is  like  the  other;  you  may  cross  it  any- 
where and  find  the  same  view,  the  same  road.  Perhaps  Long-ma, 
well  placed  upon  a  bluff  overlooking  an  alluvial  flat  where 
stunted  barley  grows,  is  the  most  interesting  town  on  the  route; 
and  the  village  itself,  though  quite  as  dirty  as  every  other  in 
Tibet,  has,  at  any  rate  in  the  distance,  a  certain  dignity  of  its 
own,  to  which,  in  a  rather  specious  way,  the  buildings  set  up 
on  the  rapidly  ascending  slope  behind  the  main  path  of  the  town 
contribute.  There  is  a  large  house  here  which  was  unoccupied 
and  shut  up  on  our  arrival,  and  interested  us  chiefly  because  it 
was  said  to  have  recently  contained  a  community  of  Lamaic 
acolytes.  From  Long-ma  to  Ra-lung  the  road  is  comparatively 
uninteresting.  Here  and  there,  in  the  distance,  filling  the  end 
of  the  valley,  one  saw  the  great  white  mass  of  Nichi-kang-sang ; 
here  and  there  steep  jutting  pinnacles  of  red  rock;  here  and  there 


ATTACKED   BY   THE   TIBETANS  131 

across  the  river  the  remains  of  a  house  crumbling  on  the  alhi- 
vial  ledge.  The  river  itself  runs  entirely  round  the  stone  but- 
tresses of  the  fields,  and  over  the  waste  of  uncultivated  ground 
a  few  patches  of  vetch — at  that  time  without  even  a  promise  of 
flower— a  few  stunted  thistles,  and  the  inevitable  gray  brushes 
of  wormwood  star  the  dun  naked  slopes.  Nothing  is  more  strik- 
ing up  here  than  the  way  in  which  the  dark  blue  of  the  sky  over- 
head shades  quickly  down  toward  the  horizon  on  every  side  into 
the  palest  shade  of  turquoise.  The  clearness  of  the  air  is  such 
that  not  the  faintest  screen  of  blue  is  interposed  between  oneself 
and  the  hills  four  miles  away;  while  the  clefts  in  the  glaciers 
of  Nichi-kang-sang  himself  seem  as  clearly  defined  at  a  range 
of  fifteen  miles  as  those  which  criss-cross  upon  the  gravel  of  the 
further  bank. 

Ra-lung  was  reached  on  the  afternoon  of  the  second  day. 
This  march  of  thirty-three  miles  in  forty-eight  hours  at  this  al- 
titude was,  perhaps,  the  most  creditable  feat  of  endurance  of 
the  whole  campaign.  Such  distances  as  these  may  not  seem  of 
any  particular  military  interest,  or  of  credit  to  the  troops  con- 
cerned, but  it  must  be  remembered  that  the  lowest  estimate  that 
one  can  fairly  place  upon  the  additional  labor  of  marching  at 
these  high  altitudes  is  a  hundred  per  cent.  It  is  true  that  the 
actual  fatigue  to  the  muscles  is  hardly  increased,  and  that  though 
men  may  arrive  in  camp  almost  dead-beat,  an  hour  or  two's  rest 
(if  they  are  lucky  enough  to  get  it)  will  always  set  them  up 
again.  But  the  strain  on  the  heart  and  lungs  is  terrible,  and 
nothing  but  use  can  accustom  a  man  living  nearly  all  his  life 
in  the  plains  of  India  to  that  intense  heaviness  of  both  himself 
and  his  accoutrements  which,  in  these  highlands,  is  the  most 
conspicuous  sensation.  I  have  elsewhere  referred  in  more  de- 
tail to  the  physical  experiences  and  sufferings  of  the  troops, 
and  these  circumstances  of  all  our  work  in  Tibet  should  be 
borne  in  mind  as  an  ever-present  environment,  from  the  first 


132  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

climbing  of  the  heights  of  Changu  or  Ling-tu  to  the  scaling  of 
the  little  ridge  between  Potala  and  Chagpo-ri. 

Ra-lung  is  divided  by  a  small  stream  into  two  parts.  The 
Tibetan  village  lies  to  the  south,  a  mere  cluster  of  common 
adobe  huts  whitewashed  or  in  ruins.  On  the  northern  side  of 
this  affluent  is  the  Chinese  post-house,  set  a  hundred  yards  back 
from  the  edge  of  the  river  cliff  on  the  very  spot  where  there 
is  one  of  the  curiously  marked  out  camping-grounds  used  by 
the  two  Grand  Lamas  alone.  The  bridge  over  the  Ra-lung  chu 
is  a  typical  line  of  roughly  heaped  stone  piers,  bridged  across 
with  larger  slabs  of  the  same  schistose  limestone.  Crossing 
the  river  here  the  main  road  to  Lhasa  keeps  close  beside  it  on  the 
northeastern  bank  for  one  or  two  miles  of  a  bad  track.  Small 
streams  intersect  its  progress,  running  in  the  wet  weather  in 
a  plashy  torrent  at  the  bottom  of  deep-cut  ravines;  otherwise 
the  steep  cliff  wall  comes  down  sharply  on  to  the  very  path  until 
the  last  corner  is  turned  and  the  wide  valley  of  Gom-tang  is 
seen  spreading  out  a  mile  or  two  wide  toward  the  northwest. 
Here  the  track  leaves  the  river-side  and  runs  northward  over  the 
gently  sloping  highlands  beneath  the  snowy  backbone  of  this 
great  spur  of  the  Himalayas. 

Some  reference  should  be  made  to  these  hills.  A  high  range 
rises  to  the  elevation  of  24,000  feet,  through  which  a  deep  fissure 
between  Nichi-kang-sang  on  the  north  and  on  the  south  a  peak, 
which,  I  believe,  is  known  in  the  surveys  as  D  114,  allows  the 
road  to  Lhasa  to  creep  along  far  down  between  the  gigantic 
ice-fields.  To  the  north  and  to  the  south  this  uplifted  stretch 
of  snow  is  carried  onward,  terminated  to  the  north  by  the  abrupt 
valley  of  the  Rong  chu,  to  the  south  curving  eastward  and  form- 
ing the  snowy  southern  frontiers  of  the  basin  of  the  Yam-dok  tso. 
This  description  is  necessary  in  order  to  make  clear  the  impor- 
tance and  the  military  ^kill  of  the  Tibetans'  choice  of  a  position 
to  defend.    No  flanking  movement  is  possible,  either  to  the  north 


ATTACKED   BY   THE   TIBETANS  133 

or  to  the  south,  unless  an  invading  force  is  willing  to  wait 
five  days  for  the  co-operation  of  any  mounted  column  sent 
round  by  the  northern  route  to  come  upon  the  enemy's  rear  from 
a  point  within  a  mile  or  two  of  Nagartse. 

After  a  march  of  about  seven  miles  from  Ra-lung,  the  road 
keeps  well  away  to  the  right  to  avoid  the  marshes  covered  with 
hummocky  grass,  reeds,  stunted  primulas,  and,  it  must  be  added, 
quagmires  through  which  the  clear  brown  waters  of  the  Ra-lung 
chu  run  ice-cold  from  their  snowy  source.  Across  the  river 
the  plain  still  extends,  sweeping  upward  between  the  projecting 
spurs  of  the  western  hills  in  long  ascending  plains  of  bare  stone. 
As  our  force  reached  this  point,  it  seemed  only  possible  to  con- 
tinue the  march  in  one  direction.  The  long  plain  stretched  out 
in  front,  ascending  gently  until  the  farthest  limits  cut  upward 
into  the  sky  itself.  But  this  was  no  road  for  a  laden  force,  and, 
as  a  matter  of  fact,  it  is  not  used  at  all  except  by  shepherds  and 
goat-herds  in  the  brief  summer  months.  As  I  have  said,  the 
real  road  to  Lhasa  turns  suddenly  inward  under  the  snowy 
shoulders  of  Nichi-kang-sang ;  and  over  8,000  feet  below  the 
gigantic  mass  of  unrelieved  ice  and  snow  which  forms  his  high- 
est peak,  the  ribbon-like  track  dives  abruptly  into  the  river-bed 
beside  a  little  stream  which  has  cut  its  way  through  this  gigantic 
curtain  of  rock. 

The  gorge  that  opens  here  is  narrow  and  the  road  bad. 
Closely  hugging  the  southern  bluff  the  trang  *  makes  its  snowy 
way  over  the  boulders  and  almost  through  the  waters  of  this  ice- 
fed  rivulet.  On  either  side  the  cliffs  rise  so  steeply  that  one 
hardly  catches  a  sight  of  the  eternal  snows  that  slope  steeply  back 
from  the  crest  of  these  frowning  heights.  Now  and  again  a 
ravine  betrays  the  sparkling  glory  of  the  white  ice-cornice  against 

*  A  trang  is  a  track  cut  out  of  the  cliff  beside  a  stream.  There  is  a  steep 
rock  on  one  side  and  the  water  immediately  below.  It  is  a  useful  word  for  a 
feature  which  is  not  easily  described  otherwise. 


134  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

the  deep  blue  of  the  upper  sky.  In  May  there  is  nothing  to  be 
seen  here  in  the  way  of  plants  except  the  dead  sticks  of  a  curious 
thorny  scrub,  which  during  its  hibernation  is  of  an  unusual  pink 
color,  cobwebbed  about  with  the  gray  dead  filigree  of  last  year's 
leaves.  This  will  burn,  and,  indeed,  it  forms  the  only  fuel  to  be 
found  for  many  miles. 

Sharply  ascending,  the  road  after  a  mile  and  a  half  crosses 
the  stream,  now  sparkling  in  a  noisy  shallow  between  the  pebbles 
of  its  bed ;  and  a  climb  of  another  two  hundred  yards  brings  one 
into  an  oval  plain  which,  probably  from  the  fact  that  in  the 
summer  the  whole  extent  of  it  is  permeated  and  saturated  with 
water  from  the  melting  glaciers,  the  Tibetans  call  the  Plain 
of  Milk.*  In  May  the  cold  was  intense  enough,  except  in  the 
middle  of  the  day,  largely  to  reduce  the  volume  of  the  stream, 
and  the  force  made  its  way  without  difficulty  over  the  shales 
and  slate  of  this  lonely  little  flat-bottomed  cup  buried  away 
nearly  17,000  feet  above  the  sea,  and  ringed  in  by  the  eternal 
snow-fields  of  the  Himalayas. 

At  the  farther  end,  immediately  under  a  great  glacier — one 
infinitesimal  projection  of  the  huge  land  of  ice  of  which  Nichi- 
kang-sang  is  the  highest  point — the  force  encamped.  The 
mounted  infantry  had,  of  course,  been  sent  on  ahead.  They 
reported  that  the  wall  was  strongly  held  by  the  Tibetans;  and 
Colonel  Brander,  who  had  accompanied  them  to  a  point  a  mile 
or  two  further  on,  within  range  of  the  wall  itself,  made  his  dis- 
positions for  the  next  day.  To  the  east  the  Karo  la  itself,  the 
highest  point  between  Lhasa  and  India,  was  within  an  easy 
climb,  barely  three  hundred  feet  higher  than  the  Plain  of  Milk. 
Beyond  that  the  valley  takes  a  turn  to  the  northwest  between 
precipitous  cliffs,  ^11  immediately  crowned  by  the  snow-fields 
of  the  Nichi-kang-sang  group;  and  at  its  narrowest  and  most 
precipitous  point  the  Tibetans  had  built  an  enormous  wall.  This 
*  This  is  also  the  name  of  the  plain  in  which  Lhasa  stands. 


ATTACKED    BY   THE   TIBETANS  135 

was,  perhaps,  the  greatest  triumph  of  Tibetan  construction  that 
we  found  throughout  the  expedition.  I  do  not  suppose  that  any 
other  nation  in  the  world,  with  similar  means  at  their  disposal, 
could  hold  their  own  for  half  an  hour  against  the  Tibetan  in  this 
one  art  of  wall  building.  With  apparent  ease  the  most  enormous 
stones  are  collected  and  placed  with  unerring  judgment,  and  with 
a  rapidity  which  seems  almost  miraculous  to  the  eye-witness. 
This  was  no  ordinary  wall.  It  was  composed  of  angular  and 
well-adjusted  pieces  of  granite  about  two  feet  in  thickness;  the 
loopholes,  at  a  height  of  about  four  feet,  were  constructed  with 
wide-angled  "  splays "  permitting  an  extensive  field  of  fire ; 
and  above  these  carefully  made  little  embrasures  there  was 
head  cover  for  at  least  another  twelve  inches.  Between  each 
man's  recess  the  Tibetans  had  built  up  a  partition  wall  of  heavy 
slabs  of  stone,  so  that  the  damage  caused  by  direct  shell  fire 
was  reduced  to  a  minimum,  and  loss  by  enfilading  shrapnel  al- 
most entirely  avoided.  At  this  time  the  wall  was  about  eight 
hundred  yards  long;  the  enemy  had  thrown  forward  two  san- 
gars,  one  on  either  side,  which  at  once  prevented  any  chance  of 
an  easy  flanking  movement,  or,  indeed,  of  our  bringing  forward 
without  danger  either  the  Maxims  or  the  main  body  of  the 
force;  and  secure  in  this  position  they  awaited  our  coming  on 
the  following  morning. 

It  was  by  no  means  a  promising  task  for  the  small  forces  to 
attempt,  and  whatever  anxiety  Colonel  Brander  might  naturally 
have  entertained  as  to  the  rapid  success  of  the  enterprise  was 
gravely  increased  by  two  despatches  which  an  urgent  messenger, 
riding  through  the  night,  had  brought  from  Gyantse.  The  first 
was  a  telegram  from  General  Macdonald,  far  to  the  south,  ex- 
pressing his  disapproval  and  insisting  that  the  force  should  in- 
stantly retire,  unless  it  were  at  the  moment  of  the  receipt  of  the 
orders  irrevocably  committed  to  an  engagement  with  the  enemy. 
In  itself  this  was  not  calculated  to  encourage  a  man  immediately 


136  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

confronted  with  a  difficult  military  problem.  That  in  any  case  he 
would  have  regarded  himself  as  irrevocably  committed  there  can 
be  no  doubt ;  retreat  under  the  circumstances  would  have  been  a 
serious  blunder,  even  though  no  actual  contact  between  the  two 
forces  had  yet  taken  place.  But  with  characteristic  loyalty,  Colo- 
nel Younghusband,  who  throughout  had  accepted  full  responsi- 
bility for  the  expedition,  appended  to  it  the  opinion  that  under 
no  circumstances  should  the  proposed  operation  be  abandoned  or 
delayed. 

The  other  news  was  much  more  serious.  A  postscript  to  the 
letter,  in  which  Colonel  Younghusband  confirmed  his  instructions, 
gave  the  intelligence  that  before  dawn  on  the  previous  morning 
the  Mission  post  at  Gyantse  had  been  surrounded  by  800  armed 
Tibetans,  and  that  the  attack,  although  beaten  off  by  the  reduced 
garrison  of  the  place,  had  been  renewed  at  once  by  bombardment 
from  the  abandoned  jong,  which  had  been  retaken  by  another 
column  of  similar  strength.  This  was  grave  indeed,  and  though 
it  was  necessary  to  dismiss  it  from  all  consideration  till  the  day's 
work  in  front  of  him  was  done,  this  double  intelligence  greatly 
increased  the  anxiety  with  which  Colonel  Brander  set  himself  to 
secure,  not  a  victory  only,  but  a  victory  that  must  be  complete  at 
any  cost  and  before  nightfall. 

As  we  have  seen,  the  Tibetans  had  built  sangars  on  both  sides 
of  the  valley  in  advance  of  the  wall.  Two  of  these  sangars— one 
on  each  side — were  occupied  by  about  thirty  men  apiece,  and 
Major  Row  and  a  company  of  Gurkhas  were  sent  forward  to  the 
left  to  secure  the  northern  outwork.  At  the  same  time  two  com- 
panies of  the  32d  Pioneers  had  been  sent  down  the  river-bed  to- 
ward the  wall.  One,  under  Captain  Bethune,  arrived  almost  at 
the  barrier  itself,  but  so  heavy  was  the  fire  from  the  loopholes,  and 
so  impossible  any  effective  reply,  that  cover  had  to  be  taken  under 
the  river  bank  itself,  some  two  or  three  hundred  yards  away.  The 
second  company,  under  Captain  Cullen,  fought  its  way  across  an 


ATTACKED   BY   THE   TIBETANS  137 

open  stretch  of  ground  to  comparative  security  within  a  fold  in  the 
ground,  about  the  same  distance  from  the  wall.  Further  advance 
was  impossible,  though  Captain  Bethune  very  early  in  the  day 
made  a  magnificent  but  doomed  attempt  to  carry  the  wall  by  as- 
sault. It  was  here  that  he  was  killed,  close  under  the  very  wall 
itself;  according  to  one  account  he  was  at  the  moment  of  his 
death  even  clutching  the  barrel  of  a  protruding  matchlock.  He 
was  killed  on  the  instant,  and  the  force  thereby  lost  the  most  popu- 
lar, and,  perhaps,  also  the  most  capable  of  the  junior  regimental 
officers.  The  Sikhs  under  his  command  retreated  to  their  former 
cover  and  held  their  places  for  the  remainder  of  the  day. 

A  small  body  of  Pioneers  had  been  detached  to  drive  the  enemy 
from  the  sangar  which  was  being  held  on  the  southern  slope,  op- 
posite to  that  toward  which  Major  Row  was  now  advancing;  but 
it  was  almost  impossible  to  climb  the  slippery  shale  slopes,  which 
had  already  assumed  their  utmost  angle  of  repose;  there  was  no 
cover,  and  it  was  necessary  to  abandon  this  direct  attack.  There- 
upon Colonel  Brander  had  recourse  to  an  heroic  measure.  A 
dozen  men  under  a  native  officer,  Wassawa  Singh,  were  sent  up 
the  almost  perpendicular  face  of  the  1,500-foot  southern  scarp,, 
in  order  that  from  the  ice  field  above  they  might  enfilade  the  san- 
gar which  was  the  chief  obstacle  to  a  direct  attack  upon  the  wall. 

Meanwhile,  on  the  left  the  Gurkhas  had  pressed  on  pluckily 
over  the  difficult  sliding  surface  of  the  northern  slope,  now  glis- 
sading for  a  dozen  feet,  now  helping  each  other  up  over  a  difficult 
spur ;  here  creeping  under  a  projecting  shelf  on  hands  and  knees^ 
there  making  a  quick  dash  across  an  open  space,  but  always  under 
a  steady  and  pretty  well  directed  fire  from  the  sangar  they  had 
been  told  to  clear.  After  a  time  advance  along  their  present  line 
was  seen  to  be  impossible,  and  the  whole  action  of  the  morning 
was  suspended  while  Major  Row  detailed  a  few  of  his  small 
force  to  climb  the  rock  face  overhead  commanding  the  enemy's 
sangar.    For  two  hours  it  was  the  guns  only  that  answered  the  fire 


138  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

from  the  wall  and  from  the  sangars.  There  was  a  deadlock,  and 
if  no  means  could  be  found  to  drive  the  enemy  from  the  advanced 
defenses  which  they  were  holding  so  gallantly,  there  seemed  in- 
deed little  chance  of  doing  anything  more  until  nightfall.  It  was 
an  anxious  moment,  and  Colonel  Brander  did  not  spare  himself. 
Up  with  the  Maxims,  within  easy  range  of  the  Tibetan  rifles,  he 
watched  the  developments  of  the  fight. 

But  little  by  little  the  almost  indistinguishable  dots  moved  up- 
ward along  the  face  of  the  cliff  to  the  south.  A  deep  chimney 
afforded  them  both  protection  from  the  Tibetans  manning  the 
wall,  and  the  bare  possibility  of  an  ascent.  What  the  hardship 
must  have  been  of  climbing  up  to  an  altitude  which  could  not 
have  been  less  than  18,500  feet  it  is  difficult  for  the  ordinary 
reader  to  conceive.  Hampered  alike  by  his  accoutrements  and 
by  the  urgent  anxiety  for  rapidity,  Wassawa  Singh  still  gave  his 
men  but  scanty  opportunities  of  rest.  It  was  such  a  climb  as  many 
a  member  of  the  Alpine  Club  would,  under  the  best  circumstances, 
have  declined  to  attempt,  and  the  Order  of  Merit  which  was  after- 
ward conferred  upon  Wassawa  Singh  was  certainly  one  of  the 
most  hardly  earned  distinctions  of  the  campaign. 

Still,  in  spite  of  everything,  the  little  figures  crept  upward,  and 
at  last  reached  the  line  of  perpetual  snow,  where  they  could  be 
seen  clambering  and  crawling  against  the  dazzling  surface  of 
white.  There  was  still  a  long  way  for  them  to  go  when  an  out- 
break of  fire  from  the  southern  slope  of  the  valley  showed  that 
Major  Row's  men  had  established  themselves  above  the  enemy's 
right-hand  sangar.  A  brisk  crackle  of  musketry  broke  out;  the 
exchanges  were  heavy,  but  the  issue  was  never  in  any  doubt. 
Covered  by  the  fire  from  the  party  above.  Major  Row  led  the 
main  body  forward  over  the  unprotected  glacis,  at  the  upper  end 
of  which  the  little  fort  had  been  made.  The  enemy's  fire  slack- 
ened, broke  out  again,  and  finally  died  down  as  the  surviving  Tib- 
etans flung  away  their  guns  and  attempted  to  escape  down  the 


ATTACKED   BY   THE   TIBETANS  139 

almost  perpendicular  slope  of  the  hill.  Not  one  of  them  got  away. 
The  wretched  men  one  after  another  scrambled  amid  the  pitiless 
bullets  that  pecked  up  the  dust  all  round,  and  then  slid  in  an  inert 
mass  till  they  lay  quiet  on  the  road  below. 

With  a  cheer  that  we  could  hear  with  odd  distinctness  in  the 
bottom  of  the  valley,  the  Gurkhas  sprang  forward  and  captured 
the  post.  But  even  then  much  remained  to  do.  The  holders  of 
the  southern  sangar  kept  up  as  steady  a  fire  as  before  at  any  one 
who  showed  himself,  and  it  was  impossible  to  move  on  from  the 
recently  captured  outpost  so  as  to  enfilade  the  main  position, 
which  ended  on  the  north  against  a  precipitous  cliff.  For  up- 
ward of  an  hour  the  fight  again  languished.  Nothing  could  be 
seen  of  Wassawa  Singh  and  his  little  force;  they  had  taken  a 
course  which  was  hidden  behind  the  edge  of  the  rock  and  ice 
above  us. 

Nothing  in  Tibet  is  more  curiously  deceptive  than  the  little 
upright  boulders  which  stand,  for  all  the  world  like  men,  against 
the  sky  line  of  the  hills,  and  time  after  time  a  false  alarm  was 
given  that  the  Pioneers  had  at  last  reached  the  mountain  brow 
from  which  they  could  enfilade  the  enemy.  At  last,  however, 
one  of  the  stones  upon  which  our  glasses  had  been  fixed  for  so 
long  seemed  to  move  and,  half-fainting  over  it,  a  tiny  figure 
halted  and  unslung  the  miniature  rifle  into  its  right  hand.  He 
was  joined  in  a  moment  by  another,  and  his  comrades  in  the 
valley  below  gave  the  first  warning  to  the  defenders  of  the 
sangar  by  raising  a  thin  distant  cheer.  The  enemy  did  not  wait ; 
not  more  than  four  or  five  of  the  escalading  force  had  reached 
their  goal  before  the  Tibetans  bolted  from  their  advanced  post 
and  ran  back  across  the  open  coverless  slopes  of  the  mountain- 
side to  the  protection  of  the  great  wall.  In  a  moment  the  fire 
was  concentrated  upon  the  fugitives,  not  only  from  three  points 
of  the  compass,  but  from  angles  which  must  have  varied  nearly 
180°.  There  may  have  been  about  twenty-five  men  in  the  sangar: 


I40  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

of  these  two  or  three  were  hit  at  once,  and  the  remainder,  clam- 
bering and  sprawling  over  the  slippery  shale,  made  their  way 
back  in  a  rain  of  bullets.  Rifle  fire  is  one  of  the  most  unaccount- 
able things  in  the  world.  Judging  by  the  standards  of  the 
shooting  range  it  would  seem  impossible  that  even  one  man 
should  have  escaped  from  this  converging  battery ;  as  a  matter  of 
fact,  though  the  aim  was  fairly  good,  that  of  Lieutenant  Hadow's 
Maxim  being  especially  well  managed,  I  do  not  think  that  of  the 
remainder  more  than  five  men  fell  before  the  shelter  of  the  wall 
was  reached.  But  the  day  was  won;  for  the  Tibetans  behind 
the  wall,  who  cannot  have  lost  more  than  two  or  three  men 
throughout  the  whole  day,  and  whose  position  was  really  hardly 
weakened  as  yet,  fled  as  one  man  back  down  the  valley  of  the 
Karo  chu.  We  afterward  heard  that  all  day  long  there  had 
been  a  steady  melting  away  of  this  force,  and  that  in  consequence 
reinforcements  of  500  men  from  Nagartse,  sixteen  miles  down 
the  road,  had  been  sent  up  to  stiffen  the  courage  of  the  waverers. 

We  found,  on  passing  over  the  wall,  that  the  tents  were  still 
standing,  the  fires  still  alight,  and  the  water  in  the  cooking  ves-  • 
sels  still  boiling.  Furs,  blankets,  horse  furniture,  spears,  powder- 
flasks,  quick-match,  bags  of  tsamba,  skins  of  butter,  tightly 
stuffed  cushions,  everything  was  there  as  the  Tibetans  had  left  it 
in  their  haste ;  but  almost  no  rifles  or  matchlocks  were  recovered. 

By  the  time  the  force  had  secured  the  position  Captain  Ottley, 
with  his  mounted  infantry,  was  hurrying  after  the  flying  hordes. 
At  one  time  it  seemed  more  than  likely  that  his  little  force  of 
fifty  or  sixty  men  would  be  surrounded  by  the  compact  body  of 
reinforcements  which  was  halting  for  a  rest  at  Ring-la  nine  miles 
away,  when  the  dreaded  mounted  infantry  swept  round  the  cor- 
ner. Never  was  the  inherent  incapacity  of  the  Tibetan  as  a  sol- 
dier better  shown.  There  is  no  doubt  that  the  very  names  of 
Ottley  and  the  mounted  infantry  were  associated  by  this  time 
in  the  minds  of  the  Tibetans  with  an  almost  superhuman  strength 


H 
I! 
O 

< 

O 
< 

a 


2 
o 

CO 


CM 

u 
o 

3 


ATTACKED  BY  THE  TIBETANS  141 

and  invulnerability.  These  reinforcements,  which  consisted  to  a 
great  extent  of  monks,  made  almost  no  attempt  to  defend  them- 
selves, but  fled  in  all  directions  up  the  ravines  and  clefts  of  the 
sides  of  the  valley— anywhere  out  of  the  reach  of  the  "  Night- 
mare "  and  his  men.  The  blow  inflicted  upon  the  enemy  was 
trebled  by  this  successful  pursuit,  and  in  Lhasa  afterward  we 
heard  that  the  Tibetans  themselves  admitted  600  casualties.  This 
is  certainly  an  over-statement,  made  partly  in  order  to  justify 
their  expulsion  from  so  strong  a  position,  partly  also  to  persuade 
the  authorities  that  it  was  no  longer  any  use  attempting  to  oppose 
our  advance.  We  took  a  few  prisoners.  Our  own  casualties, 
besides  the  loss  of  Bethune— a  host  in  himself— were  but  four 
killed  and  thirteen  wounded.  The  day's  work  reflects  the  utmost 
credit  on  the  two  out-flanking  parties,  and  if  it  had  been  possible 
to  retain  any  sort  of  control  of  the  position  we  had  gained,  this 
fight  in  itself  might  have  been  the  turning  point  of  the  expedition. 
As  it  was,  there  was  nothing  to  do  but  to  return  with  the  utmost 
speed  to  Gyantse.  Colonel  Brander  had  not  the  time  even  to  pull 
down  the  Tibetans'  wall.  The  tents  and  the  ammunition  were 
destroyed,  as  much  damage  to  the  wall  as  could  be  done  in  the 
short  time  was  carried  out,  and  then  the  force  returned  to  their 
■camping-place  of  the  previous  night  four  miles  back  in  the  Plain 
of  Milk. 

The  altitude  to  which  the  southern  flanking  party  attained  was 
probably  the  highest  point  on  the  earth's  surface  at  which  an 
engagement  has  ever  taken  place,  and  the  accounts  given  by  the 
men  of  the  terrible  labor  of  climbing,  and  of  the  utter  inability, 
at  this  height  of  over  18,000  feet,  to  do  more  than  crawl  forward 
listlessly,  were  not  the  least  interesting  part  of  this  extraordinary 
action. 

Immediately  beyond  the  wall  is  a  very  curious  freak  of  nature. 
The  ice-field  on  the  south  here  comes  down  to  a  basin  three  hun- 
dred yards  across,  the  lower  or  northern  end  of  which  is  banked 


142  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

up ;  and  the  melting  of  the  ice  has  produced  there  a  deep  and  al- 
most clear  lake,  the  waters  of  which  on  one  side  lap  up  against 
the  high  glacier  itself.  The  Tibetans,  recognizing  any  natural 
eccentricity  as  the  predestined  home  of  devils,  have  taken  the 
greatest  pains,  with  little  pyramids  of  quartz  and  fluttering  flags, 
to  propitiate  the  evil  spirits  of  this  pretty  little  imitation  of  the 
Merjelensee. 

On  the  following  morning,  the  7th  of  May,  the  column  began 
the  return  march,  and  Captain  O'Connor  and  I  set  off  in  good 
time  to  cover  before  nightfall  the  forty-four  miles  which  lay  be- 
tween us  and  Gyantse. 


CHAPTER    IX 

THE  DALAI  LAMA  SHOWS   HIS  HAND 

WHAT  exactly  we  should  find  when  we  reached  Gyantse 
neither  O'Connor  nor  myself  had  the  least  idea.  We 
knew  that  the  first  attack  had  been  gallantly  and  satisfactorily 
beaten  off ;  but  we  also  knew  that  only  half  the  Tibetan  force  had 
been  employed  on  the  5th — knew  too  that  the  attacking  party  had 
bungled  things  in  some  way  or  other.  We  did  not  know  the  size 
of  the  guns  which  the  Tibetans  had  mounted  on  the  jong,  we  did 
not  know  how  far  the  post  had  been  surrounded,  and  to  tell  the 
truth  we  rather  trusted  to  luck  and  to  the  shades  of  night  to  get 
back  into  the  post  at  all.  Rumor  reached  us  when  we  got  to  Ra- 
lung  that  the  Tibetans  had  determined  to  hold  the  gorges  through 
which  our  little  party,  consisting  of  Captain  Ottley  with  ten  of  his 
mounted  infantry  and  our  two  selves,  had  to  pass.  If  this  were 
found  to  be  the  case  we  could  hardly  hope  to  force  a  way 
through;  but  we  knew  that  the  earlier  we  pushed  on  the  better 
hope  there  was  of  being  able  to  make  our  way  to  the  open  plain 
of  Gyantse,  which  it  was  impossible  for  the  Tibetans  to  barricade, 
and  in  which  we  might  then  be  able  to  hold  our  own  against  any 
number  the  Tibetans  were  likely  to  send  out  from  the  jong  to 
cut  us  off.  It  was  an  uneventful  ride  of  fifteen  miles  from 
Ra-lung  to  Gobshi,  and  we  covered  it  in  a  little  over  three  hours. 
We  halted  at  the  village  of  the  Four  Gates  to  collect  intelligence 
and  to  rest.  The  head  men  of  the  village  were,  not  unnaturally, 
in  a  state  of  considerable  agitation.  It  is  possible  that  they  knew 
nothing  whatever  about  the  intentions  or  the  actions  of  their 

143 


144  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

countrymen  eighteen  miles  away;  but  their  nervousness  inevita- 
bly suggested  that  they  were  lying  when  they  so  assured  us.  So 
we  determined  not  to  hurry  on,  but  to  take  care  that  the  evening 
should  have  set  in  before  we  reached  the  last  and  most  difficult 
stretch  of  our  journey. 

Leaving  Gobshi  at  half-past  four  in  the  afternoon,  we  moved 
on  slowly  down  the  valley  of  the  Nyero  chu,  watching  the  slow 
transformation  of  one  of  the  finest  sunsets  I  have  ever  seen  in 
Tibet.  Luckily  we  found  all  the  bridges  along  the  road  intact. 
This  was  a  never-ending  source  of  amazement  to  us  throughout 
the  expedition.  The  Tibetans  had  never  taken  the  trouble  or 
perhaps  even  had  the  idea  of  impeding  our  progress  by  so  simple 
and  effectual  a  device  as  the  breaking  of  the  road  in  any  way; 
perhaps  the  most  glaring  example  of  this  was  seen  in  the  way  in 
which  they  eventually  left  for  our  use  the  two  great  barges  at 
the  Chak-sam  ferry.  The  rebuilding  of  a  bridge  is  no  small 
matter  in  Tibet.  Of  wood  on  the  spot  there  may  be  nothing,  and 
in  many  cases  where  the  bridge  is  made  of  timber  brought  from 
a  distance  the  space  across  is  much  too  great  for  the  substitution 
of  stone  at  a  moment's  notice.  Accustomed  as  we  were,  it  was  a 
relief  to  find  that  the  stone  causeway  at  Malang,  about  three 
miles  from  Gobshi,  was  standing  intact.  After  that  there  was 
at  least  no  bridge  by  the  destruction  of  which  they  could  bar  our 
return  to  Gyantse  that  night. 

There  was  not  a  sign  of  a  Tibetan  an)rwhere.  The  little 
houses  and  rare  gomi>as,  nestling  here  and  there  in  the  bare 
valleys  to  the  north  and  south,  showed  no  sign  of  life.  So  we 
made  our  way  unnoticed  till  we  faced  the  crimson  blaze  of  the 
sunset  over  the  open  plain  of  Gyantse,  two  miles  beyond  the  big 
■chorten  which  is  the  most  conspicuous  object  of  the  track  astrad- 
dle of  the  road  just  where  a  sharp  turn  in  the  river  half  incloses 
a  wooded  peninsula.  We  moved  on  in  the  dying  red  light  for 
a  couple  of  miles,  and  then  the  night  of  these  high  uplands  crept 


THE   DALAI   LAMA   SHOWS   HIS    HAND       145 

in  upon  us  from  all  sides.  As  we  passed  the  house  of  the  eldest 
son  of  the  Maharajah  of  Sikkim  we  could  still  distinguish  dimly 
the  houses  near  Ne-nyeng.  A  mile  and  a  half  further  on  we 
passed  the  long  ruins  of  a  battlemented  wall  and  were  just  able 
to  distinguish  the  jong  in  the  darkness  as  we  moved  over  the  low 
neck  of  white  quartzite,  which  here  thrusts  out  into  the  plain  a 
line  of  little  peaks.  After  that  the  gloom  deepened  and  soon  we 
could  hardly  see  each  other.  It  was  a  moonless  night,  and  four 
miles  from  home  we  literally  could  not  see  the  ground  under  our 
horses'  hoofs.  Now  and  then  a  Tibetan  wayfarer  ran  into  our 
arms  before  he  knew  what  or  who  we  were;  such  travelers  we 
questioned  and  turned  behind  us.  The  explanation  each  gave  of 
his  night  wandering  was  not  wholly  uninteresting.  One  man 
had  been  into  the  city  for  a  charm  for  his  sick  wife,  and  was 
returning  confident  in  the  efficacy  of  his  closely  cuddled  treasure. 
Another  man  was  a  lama  who  had  been  relieved  by  a  friend  at  a 
monastery  all  day,  and  was  hurrying  back  to  keep  his  word  and 
release  his  already  over-taxed  proxy.  A  third  had  an  ugly  story 
to  tell  to  us— he  was  the  first  who  gave  us  any  information  of 
the  horrible  fate  which  had  overtaken  our  unfortunate  servants. 
They  all  agreed  that  the  Tibetans  were  holding  all  the  houses  in 
the  plain  past  which  our  road  necessarily  ran ;  but  more  than  that 
none  of  them  honestly  seemed  able  to  tell  us. 

By  this  time  our  escort  had  been  reduced  to  six  men.  Captain 
Ottley  had  decided  to  remain  behind  at  Gobshi  to  secure  a  safe 
escort  for  a  belated  baggage  mule  and  her  leader.  So  we  moved 
on  through  the  night,  and  for  the  first  time  I  realized  the  skill  of 
a  native  of  India  as  a  tracker.  There  was  not  the  slightest  indi- 
cation of  a  road  anywhere.  There  was  not  a  light  visible  in  the 
whole  plain,  and  even  the  stars  were  obscured  by  the  light  night 
mist  that  was  rising  into  the  cold  air  from  the  still  warm  fields. 
By  daylight  one  would  have  made  half-a-dozen  mistakes  in  trying 
to  thread  one's  way  across  the  three  miles  of  flat  country,  deeply 


146  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

intersected  in  every  direction  with  wide  and  often  unfordable 
water-courses;  but  now  in  the  dark  the  guidance  of  our  Sikhs 
was  unfaiHng.  One  road  there  was,  and  one  only,  after  we  had 
struck  out  toward  Chang-lo  from  the  beaten  path.  This  took 
a  fantastic  course  over  the  plowed  fields,  along  the  bunds  con- 
taining the  marshy  squares  where  the  first  barley  was  beginning 
to  show  itself,  across  the  irrigation  channels  by  single-stone 
bridges,  swerving  now  to  the  right  and  now  to  the  left,  dipping 
down  into  a  dry  water-course,  rising  on  the  farther  side  at  some 
unindicated  point,  brushing  past  little  clumps  of  sallow-thorn, 
skirting  an  old  reservoir,  and  often  verging  too  close  to  be  com- 
fortable to  some  occupied  house  which  was  invisible  at  ten  yards, 
but  was  betrayed  by  the  furious  barking  of  the  inevitable  watch- 
dogs. Along  this  tortuous  path  the  Sikhs  of  our  escort  led  us 
in  the  darkness  without  the  slightest  hesitation  or  mistake.  Even  . 
at  the  end,  when  a  single  light  could  be  seen  from  the  window  of 
the  upper  story  of  our  besieged  post,  they  made  no  mistake  in 
going  straight  toward  it.  A  sharp  turn  to  the  right  along  an 
iris-covered  embankment  saved  us  a  heavy  wetting  in  the  deepest 
water-channel  of  the  plain. 

As  we  approached  Chang-lo  we  suddenly  remembered  that  we 
were  in  considerably  more  danger  from  the  high-strung  watch- 
fulness of  our  own  sentries  than  from  all  the  forces  that  Tibet 
could  put  into  the  field.  After  a  while  we  could  barely  distin- 
guish against  the  vague  duskiness  of  the  sky  the  mass  of  our  tall 
poplars.  And  then  two  men  were  sent  on  to  feel  our  way  into 
the  post — no  easy  matter.  The  garrison  were  not  expecting  us, 
and  the  approach  to  a  defended  position  is  a  difficult  matter, 
wholly  apart  from  the  possibility  of  the  sentry  firing  before  he 
challenges.  Barbed  wire  entanglements,  well-planned  stakes  and 
abattis  of  felled  tree-tops  and  other  impedimenta  are  no  light 
things  to  penetrate  on  a  dark  night;  and  in  the  present  case  we 
had  no  means  of  knowing  what  additional  precautions  the  garri- 


THE  DALAI  LAMA  SHOWS  HIS  HAND        147 

son  had,  as  a  matter  of  course,  taken.  But  all  was  well ;  and  at 
about  a  quarter  to  ten  we  found  ourselves  in  the  Mission  mess 
heartily  welcomed  as  earnest  of  better  things  to  come. 

The  story  of  the  attack  on  the  Mission  in  the  early  hours  of 
May  5th  reads  like  a  romance.  As  I  have  said,  news  had  come 
that  a  body  of  Tibetans  was  moving  up  the  valley  of  the  Nyang 
chu  to  Dongtse,  twelve  miles  away  to  the  north-west.  These  men, 
1,600  in  number,  no  doubt  had  their  instructions,  and  it  subse- 
quently was  shown  that  those  instructions  had  been  given  them 
by  Dorjieff  himself.  They  had  to  retake  the  jong  and  anni- 
hilate the  Mission  with  its  escort.  It  may  be  questioned,  how- 
ever, whether  they  would  ever  have  had  the  determination  to 
attempt  to  carry  out  the  latter  part  of  their  orders,  if  at  the  last 
moment  they  had  not  received  what  must  have  seemed  to  them 
the  miraculous  news  that  two-thirds  of  the  defenders  of  Chang-lo 
had  suddenly  been  called  away.  Marching  in  two  bands  through 
the  night  of  the  4th  of  May,  one-half  reoccupied  the  jong,  while 
the  other  moved  as  silently  as  shadows  up  to  the  very  walls  of 
the  English  post. 

Speculation  as  to  what  would  have  happened  if  another  course 
had  been  adopted  is,  perhaps,  useless;  but  there  was  a  fair  con- 
sensus of  opinion  in  the  post  that'  if  the  Tibetans  had  simply 
thrown  away  their  useless  firearms,  and  had  contented  them- 
selves with  rushing  the  sentries  with  drawn  swords,  the  issue  of 
that  evening  might  have  been  painfully  different.  Actually,  the 
men  who  reached  the  post  were  under  the  walls  by  about  three 
in  the  morning ;  and  there  in  silence  they  seem  to  have  remained 
for  nearly  an  hour.  Not  a  sentry  perceived  them ;  and  if  it  had 
not  been  for  an  alarm  given  by  the  last  joined  recruit  of  the 
whole  force,  a  boy  who  had  not  been  thought  to  have  sufficient 
steadiness  for  the  work  of  a  soldier,  and  was  only  accepted  be- 
cause of  the  unexpected  loss  of  another  man,  they  could  with- 


148  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

out  difficulty  have  made  their  way  within  striking  distance  of  at 
least  two  of  the  four  sentries.  This  boy,  looking  through  the 
darkness,  thought  he  saw  the  movement  of  what  might  have 
been  a  man  about  twenty  yards  from  the  southern'  entrance.  It 
will  be  remembered  that  our  relations  with  the  Tibetans  were  of 
the  most  friendly  character,  and  as  a  matter  of  fact  the  nightly 
visits  paid  by  the  followers  of  the  Mission  to  Gyantse,  for  more 
or  less  disreputable  purposes,  must  have  been  well  within  his 
knowledge;  he  must,  in  fact,  have  known  that  at  that  moment 
there  were  at  least  eight  of  the  servants  of  the  force  in  the  town ; 
and  it  says  a  good  deal  for  his  coolness  and  discipline  that,  whe- 
ther he  were  betraying  a  friend  or  not,  he  did  not  hesitate  for  a 
moment  to  rouse  the  echoes  of  the  night  by  a  hasty  shot  follow- 
ing upon  a  single  loud  challenge. 

The  effect  of  a  shot  at  night  upon  a  defended  post  is  something 
which  should  be  experienced  to  be  fully  understood;  the  whole 
place  is  galvanized  as  though  it  had  received  an  electric  shock. 
And  every  other  sentry  realized  in  a  second  the  danger  that  lay 
in  the  swarming  black  ring  of  men,  which  now,  for  the  first  time, 
were  seen  clearly  enough  encircling  the  whole  post.  The  Tibe- 
tans also  were  naturally  startled  into  action ;  they  stood  up  under 
our  very  walls  and  actually  used  our  own  loop-holes,  thrusting 
the  muzzles  of  their  matchlocks  into  the  Mission  compound.  A 
doctor  was  the  first  man  to  dash  into  the  place  from  the  redoubt 
and  warn  Colonel  Younghusband  of  his  danger.  His  descrip- 
tion of  the  compound  is  curious;  he  says  that  a  network  of 
flashes  and  humming  bullets  struck  in  every  direction  over  the 
inclosure.  By  some  merciful  accident  not  a  single  man  was  hit, 
though  several  of  the  tents  received  four  or  five  bullets  straight 
through  them.  Captain  Walton  in  particular  had  a  very  narrow 
escape ;  he  said  that  the  first  thing  that  he  realized,  after  this  rude 
awakening,  was  the  muzzles  of  two  or  three  rusty  matchlocks 
poking  down  through  the  wall  in  his  direction.     One  thing  prob- 


THE  DALAI  LAMA  SHOWS   HIS  HAND        149 

ably  saved  the  situation;  the  Tibetans,  being  naturally  shorter 
men  than  the  Sikhs,  for  whom  the  loop-holes  had  originally  been 
made,  and  at  no  time  paying  much  attention  to  fire  discipline  or 
aim,  simply  held  their  guns  up  over  their  heads  and  fired  through 
the  loop-holes  in  any  direction  that  was  convenient.  For  a  few 
seconds,  which  seemed  almost  as  many  minutes,  the  walls  re- 
mained unmanned;  then  round  by  the  water  gate  the  quick 
reports  of  the  Lee-Metford  heralded  a  blaze  of  fire  from  every 
point  of  the  perimeter. 

From  the  point  of  view  of  the  Tibetans,  the  moment  chosen 
for  the  attack  was  most  unfortunate.  They  secured,  indeed,  for 
themselves  the  advantage  of  an  approach  in  the  dark,  and,  of 
course,  had  they  been  successful  in  effecting  their  purpose  and 
forcing  a  hand-to-hand  struggle  inside  the  walls  of  the  post,  the 
coming  of  dawn  might  have  served  them  in  good  stead.  As  it 
was,  however,  the  growing  light  caught  them,  not  only  still  out- 
side our  defenses,  but  a  beaten  crowd,  for  whom  there  was  not  a 
stick  of  cover,  huddled  up  under  the  walls  of  the  post.  When 
their  inevitable  flight  had  to  be  attempted  some  fled  at  once 
among  the  trees  of  the  plantation  behind  Chang-lo;  some  hid 
themselves  idiotically  in  the  walled-up  bays  of  the  bridge,  where 
they  were  caught  like  rats  in  a  trap  by  the  first  skirmishing  party 
that  set  out  to  clear  the  ground.  The  luckiest  were  the  most 
cowardly;  large  numbers,  as  soon  as  our  firing  broke  out,  had 
made  their  way  back  in  terror  through  the  shrubs  and  willows 
immediately  overhanging  the  river  bank  toward  the  white  house, 
600  yards  ahead  of  us,  toward  the  jong,  which  was  afterward 
captured  by  us  and  known  as  the  Gurkhas'  post.  Here  they  were 
in  safety.  On  the  way  they  passed  a  small  shrine  which  Captain 
Walton  had  been  using  as  his  consulting  room  and  hospital  for 
Tibetan  patients. 

It  was  from  this  hospital  that  the  first  intimation  of  anything 
wrong  had  been  received.     On  the  morning  of  the  previous  day 


150  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

Captain  Walton's  suspicions  had  been  aroused  by  the  sudden 
exodus  of  a  very  large  number  of  his  patients.  One  and  all 
seemed  anxious  to  get  away,  and  though  this  might  really  mean 
little  with  a  shy  and  probably  mistrustful  people  like  the  good 
folk  of  Gyantse,  there  was  a  unanimity  about  the  whole  matter 
which  caused  him  to  make  some  disappointed  comment,  and  then 
it  appeared  that  one  of  his  patients  had  been  told  of  the  intention 
of  the  Tibetans  to  make  a  night  attack  upon  the  Mission.  Such 
rumors  had,  of  course,  been  common  ever  since  our  occupation 
of  the  place,  and  had  been  proved  time  after  time  to  be  the  merest 
canards.  Captain  Walton  paid  very  little  attention  to  it,  but  he 
was  sufficiently  aware  of  a  change  in  the  attitude  of  his  patients 
— such  of  them  as  remained  for  treatment— to  make  him  report 
the  matter  to  Colonel  Younghusband  that  evening,  without,  how- 
ever, expressing  any  belief  or,  indeed,  much  interest  in  the  mat- 
ter. By  this  time  his  hospital  was  empty  of  all  its  inmates 
except,  I  believe,  one  or  two  bedridden  men  who  could  find  no 
one  to  come  and  help  them  away. 

I  have  said  that  the  luckiest  were  the  most  cowardly,  but  for 
the  main  body  of  the  attacking  force  there  was  no  help.  When 
their  attack  failed  and  flight  was  necessary  they  were  obliged  to 
make  the  best  of  their  way  back  across  the  flat  plain  to  the  jong 
and  Gyantse.  The  defenders'  post  numbered  in  all  about  170 
men,  but  this  number  was  to  a  large  extent  weakened  by  the  fact 
that  Colonel  Brander  had  naturally  taken  with  him  the  strongest 
men  of  the  force,  and  those  who  remained  behind  were  certainly, 
to  the  extent  of  forty  per  cent.,  either  weakened  by  dysentery  or 
actually  in  hospital  blankets.  But,  well  or  ill,  every  man  reached 
for  his  rifle  and  came  out  to  his  place.  The  members  of  the  Mis- 
sion— Colonel  Younghusband,  Captain  Ryder,  Lieutenant-Colo- 
nel Waddell,  and,  it  should  not  be  forgotten,  Mr.  Mitter,  the  con- 
fidential clerk  of  the  Mission — immediately  manned  the  upper 
works,  and  a  certain  number  of  the  followers  displayed  consider- 


THE  DALAI  LAMA  SHOWS   HIS   HAND      151 

able  martial  energy  in  positions  of  more  or  less  personal  danger. 
About  a  dozen  of  the  mounted  infantry  had  been  left  by  Colonel 
Brander,  and  these  men  saddled  their  ponies  with  feverish  haste. 
Bullets  were  still  singing  over  the  post,  but  there  was  no  doubt 
that  the  Tibetans  had  been  successfully  beaten  off,  and  the  lesson 
to  be  taught  them  was  one  which  mounted  men  could  best  convey. 
The  real  flight  of  the  Tibetans  did  not  begin  till  forty  minutes 
after  the  first  alarm,  and  though  it  would  be  inaccurate  to  say 
that  the  issue  was  really  in  doubt  after  the  first  five  or  ten,  it 
will  be  seen  that  the  engagement  was  for  a  time  hotly  contested, 
and  it  is  doubtful  whether  the  Tibetans  lost  many  men  till  they 
broke  and  ran.  After  that  it  was  simply  a  case  of  shooting  down 
the  flying  figiu-es  in  the  gray  morning  twilight.  It  is  one  of  the 
peculiarities  of  Tibet  that  as  soon  as  a  leafless  bush  can  be  distin- 
guished twenty  yards  away  in  the  dawn  you  can  almost  as  clearly 
see  a  willow  tree  on  a  slope  a  mile  and  a  half  distant.  The  tiny 
body  of  irregular  infantry,  made  all  the  more  irregular  by  the 
volunteers  who  aided  in  the  pursuit,  were  busily  and  systemati- 
cally clearing  the  plantation  of  the  enemy,  and  preparing  to  carry 
a  counter  attack  home  to  the  very  foot  of  the  rock  from  which 
the  first  jingal  balls  were  now  being  fired  toward  Chang-lo. 

The  Tibetans  left  behind  them  but  few  under  the  actual  walls 
of  the  post,  but  180  dead  were  found  within  a  radius  of  one 
thousand  yards,  and,  under  the  circumstances,  at  least  three 
times  that  number  must  have  been  wounded.  On  our  own  side — 
besides  our  wretched  servants  and  the  unhappy  Nepali  shepherd 
who  was  caught  outside  the  defenses  watching  his  flock  through 
the  night,  and  fell  a  shocking  victim  to  the  Tibetans'  savage  lust 
for  blood — there  were  but  two  casualties  all  this  time.  This  is 
but  another  example  of  the  immunity  which,  time  after  time,  was 
enjoyed  by  our  men  against  all  probability  and,  indeed,  expe- 
rience. 

The  work  of  the  mounted  infantry  was  finished  about  six 


152  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

o'clock  in  the  full  light  of  the  quick  Asiatic  dawn.  The  Tibetans 
flying  helplessly  over  the  flat  irrigated  fields  had  been  scattered 
to  the  winds.  The  luckier  ones  on  horseback  made  good  their 
escape  almost  to  a  man.  The  others  either  ran  for  their  lives 
with  the  characteristic  heavy-shouldered  tramp  of  their  race,  or 
hid  in  vain  desperation  among  the  irrigation  channels  of  the 
fields.  One  or  two  fled  to  the  river  bank  and  there  immersed 
themselves,  leaving  their  mouths  and  noses  only  above  the  thick, 
brown  flood,  under  the  friendly  shelter  of  an  overhanging  shrub. 
One  or  two  by  the  banks,  with  animal-like  cunning,  feigned 
death,  and  when  detected  pretended  to  be  severely  wounded. 

An  hour  and  a  half  after  this  heavy  and  responsible  work  two 
Sikhs  threw  the  post-bags  of  the  dak  across  their  saddles  and 
moved  out  to  take  the  mails  as  usual  to  Sau-gang.  Later  in  the 
day  another  man  cantered  off  on  the  road  to  the  Karo  la.  The 
lesson  of  the  morning  was  emphasized  by  a  spasmodic  bombard- 
ment all  the  day,  and  a  Sepoy  was  killed  while  standing  almost 
immediately  behind  a  high  adobe  wall.  Captain  Ryder  instantly 
assumed  the  direction  of  the  additional  defenses  which  had  to  be 
made,  and  the  next  two  days  produced  an  extraordinary  altera- 
tion in  the  aspect  of  Chang-lo.  Great  traverses  of  timber  logs,  in- 
terspersed with  granite  boulders,  rose  up  like  magic  everywhere. 
The  Masbi  Sikh  is  by  nature  and  intention  a  lazy  man ;  yet  it  is 
possible  that  no  Sikh  in  the  history  of  his  race  ever  worked  with 
such  desperation  as  the  hundred  laborers  who,  in  very  truth,  had 
to  work  like  the  famous  artisans  under  the  direction  of  Nehe- 
miah.  There  was  no  time  to  lose,  for  the  only  information  we 
could  certainly  get  from  the  prisoners  was  that  more  men  and 
larger  guns  were  even  at  that  moment  being  hurried  up  against 
us  from  Lhasa. 

Such  was  the  state  of  affairs  when  O'Connor  and  I  rode  in 
on  the  evening  of  the  7th.  The  column  from  the  Karo  la  could 
not  arrive  until  the  afternoon  of  the  9th ;  an  attack,  meanwhile,. 


THE  DALAI  LAMA  SHOWS   HIS   HAND      153 

was  threatened  for  that  same  night.  But  the  Tibetans  had  had 
too  heavy  a  lesson,  and  nothing,  therefore,  was  done  before  the 
arrival  of  the  main  body  of  the  defenders  had  put  an  end  to  all 
hope  of  carrying  the  post  by  storm. 

As  soon  as  the  place  was  put  in  a  proper  condition  of  defense 
we  had  leisure  to  consider  the  extraordinary  change  in  the  politi- 
cal situation  which  had  been  caused  by  the  attack  of  the  Tibe- 
tans. Of  course,  in  one  way  it  simplified  the  position  enormously ; 
there  could  no  longer  be  any  pretense  on  the  part  of  the  Tibetans 
that  they  were  a  peace-loving  and  long-suffering  race ;  the  issues 
were  cleared.  It  was  obvious  that  no  negotiations  had  ever  been 
intended.  We  were  able  at  last  to  estimate  the  authority  of  the 
Chinese  suzerains  and  the  influence  of  the  Amban  himself — nei- 
ther existed.  Unless  we  were  willing  to  help  ourselves,  it  was 
in  a  moment  clear  that  the  Chinese  were  neither  willing  nor  able 
to  help  us.  I  do  not  suppose  that  any  one  in  his  senses  has  ever 
seriously  criticized  the  right  of  the  Tibetans  to  massacre  the 

• 

Mission  if  they  could,  and  if  they  were  ready  to  accept  the  con- 
sequences of  success.  It  is  true  that  the  circumstances  of  this 
attack  during  a  period  of  practical  armistice,  while  we  were 
awaiting,  if  not  perhaps  expecting,  the  advent  of  the  Amban, 
gave  some  reasonable  ground  of  complaint ;  but  as  we  were  our- 
selves tarred  with  the  same  brush,  reproach  was  a  boomerang-like 
weapon  for  us  to  employ.  The  situation,  as  I  have  said,  was 
undoubtedly  cleared,  but  it  may  well  be  doubted  whether  that  was 
any  particular  gratification  to  the  Cabinet  at  home.  That  it  was 
not  is  perhaps  clear  from  the  fact  that  Lord  Lansdowne  seems 
immediately  to  have  gone  out  of  his  way  to  make  a  gratuitous 
re-statement  of  the  pledges  which  the  Government  had  given  six 
months  before  to  Russia.  Herein,  perhaps,  there  is  some  just 
reason  to  demur  to  the  policy  of  Whitehall.  It  is  an  open  secret 
that  our  policy  in  Egypt  just  then  demanded  that  we  should  be 
on  good  terms  with  Russia,  but  even  so,  it  seemed  common  sense 


154  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

to  lay  every  conceivable  stress  upon  an  active  hostility  which  was 
at  once  recognized  as  due  to  the  presence  of  a  Russian  subject 
in  Lhasa.  In  any  case,  whatever  the  responsibility  of  an  unau- 
thorized representative  of  the  great  northern  neighbor  of  Tibet, 
it  was  perfectly  clear  that  the  attack  on  the  Mission  had  practi- 
cally justified  to  the  full  the  presumptions  of  active  hostility 
which  had  seemed  to  us  to  necessitate  the  accompaniment  of  the 
Mission  by  a  strong  escort.  The  chief  point,  therefore,  which 
had  excited  the  mistrust  of  continental  critics  Was  clearly  demon- 
strated as  a  wise  and,  indeed,  a  very  necessary  precaution  on  our 
part. 

More  than  this,  the  behavior  of  the  Tibetans  had  justified  at 
a  stroke  our  taking  action  in  the  matter  at  all.  It  was  clear  from 
the  kindly  reception  which  the  Mission  received  on  its  coming 
to  Gyantse  from  every  one  except  the  local  representatives  of  the 
close  Lamaic  corporation  that  governs  the  country,  and  from  the 
subsequent  attack  promoted  by  that  corporation,  that  our  forecast 
was  correct,  not  only  in  assuming  that  the  Lamaic  hierarchy  in 
no  way  represented  the  feeling  of  the  bulk  of  the  population,  but 
also  that  it  was  from  the  priestly  autocrats  of  Tibet  alone  that 
danger  to  British  interests  was  to  be  feared.  It  was  no  part  of 
the  business  of  the  British  Government  to  play  the  role  of  Perseus 
rescuing  Andromeda  from  a  monster;  but  somewhat  to  our  sur- 
prise we  found  that  the  policy  of  the  Viceroy,  begun  for  very 
different  and  somewhat  prosaic  reasons,  was  actually  compelling 
us  into  a  position  which  was  not  very  different.  We  had  begun, 
without  questioning  the  form  of  government  which  obtained  in 
Tibet,  by  working  for  the  conclusion  of  some  agreement  with  a 
properly  accredited  representative  of  the  country.  We  had  ac- 
cepted the  peculiarities,  not  to  say  the  brutalities,  -which  mark  this 
extreme  form  of  religious  tyranny,  not  in  ignorance,  but  as 
being  no  affair  of  ours.  With  the  Grand  Lama  as  the  head  of 
the  country  we  had  certain  business  to  transact;  and  if  he  had 


THE  DALAI  LAMA  SHOWS   HIS   HAND      155 

been  willing  to  meet  us  at  Kamba-jong,  our  difficulties  would 
have  been  over.  We  should  never  have  moved  a  mile  farther 
into  the  Forbidden  Country,  and,  perhaps,  the  hold  of  the  lamas 
over  the  country  might  have  been  even  stronger  than  before,  inas- 
much as  our  diplomatic  relations  with  Lhasa  would  have  formed 
an  additional  proof  of  the  ability  of  the  Tibetans  to  manage  their 
own  foreign  affairs,  and  of  the  uselessness  of  continuing  the  farce 

of  Chinese  sovereignty.  This  the  Grand  Lama  failed  to  see,  and 
the  upshot  of  our  interference  has  been  that  the  reign  of  supersti- 
tious tyranny  has  received  a  severe  blow,  not  only  by  the  prestige 
we  have  gained  by  our  successful  advance  to  Lhasa,  but  by  the 
deposition  of  the  Grand  Lama,  and  by  the  strength  which  has 
thereby  been  temporarily  given  to  the  tottering  structure  of  Chi- 
nese sovereignty. 

These  considerations  might  perhaps  have  made  the  home  au- 
thorities hesitate  before  wantonly  reiterating  to  the  Russians 
assurances  which  were  perfectly  honest  but  in  their  origin  appli- 
cable only  to  an  entirely  different  and  much  less  complicated 
state  of  affairs.  The  attack  on  the  Mission  was  the  throwing 
down  of  the  glove.  It  was  a  deliberate  challenge  on  the  part  of 
an  autocrat  who  saw  that  in  the  slowly  increasing  friendliness 
between  the  foreigner  and  the  "  miser  "  of  the  land  there  lurked 
perhaps  the  seeds  of  trouble  for  himself  in  the  future.  We  know 
from  an  excellent  source  that  the  action  of  the  English  in  paying 
full  prices,  and  even  more  than  full  prices,  for  the  food-stuffs 
they  requisitioned  in  the  Chumbi  and  Nyang  chu  Valleys  was  an 
unexpected  shock  to  the  authorities  in  Lhasa ;  they  complained  of 
it.  And  knowing,  as  we  now  do,  whose  influence  lay  at  the  bot- 
tom of  this  night  attack  upon  the  Mission,  we  can  see  not  only 
a  shrewd  and  successful  scheme  whereby  Dorjieff  himself  might 
escape  from  the  consequences  of  his  own  bad  advice,  but  a  not 

unnatural  determination  at  all  hazards  to  put  an  end  to  the  grow- 
ing familiarity  between  the  invaders  and  the  invaded. 


156  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

About  this  time  in  Lhasa  there  was  a  wave  of  mistrust  of  the 
Chinese.  Actual  power  the  Chinese  had  none,  and  the  very- 
advice  of  the  Amban  was  believed  to  be  tainted.  Dorjieff  had 
assured  the  government  of  Tibet  that  the  English  had  brought 
into  subjection  the  Middle  Kingdom,  and  were  using  to  the  full 
the  authority  of  the  Chinese  representatives  abroad  when  and  as 
it  suited  their  purpose.  The  earnest  and  repeated  advice  there- 
fore to  them  was  merely  a  confirmation  of  the  serious  danger  they 
were  in.  They  left  no  stone  unturned  to  spur  their  people  on  to 
harry  those  whom  they  called  the  English  infidels  of  Hindustan. 
The  men  of  Kams  at  first  refused  to  leave  their  province  to  op- 
pose our  advance;  they  argued  that  they  could  not  leave  their 
own  district  unprotected,  and,  as  the  Dalai  Lama's  temporal 
authority  over  Kams  is  somewhat  nebulous,  he  very  wisely  ad- 
jured them  to  assist  him  on  the  spiritual  ground  that  the  ultimate 
intention  of  the  Mission  was  to  wreck  Buddhism. 

The  state  of  affairs  in  Lhasa  at  this  time  was  desperate.  The 
Emperor  of  China  had  ordered  the  Tibetans  to  negotiate  with 
the  Maharajah  of  Nepal  and  the  Tongsa  Penlop,  the  temporal 
ruler  of  Bhutan ;  both  had  urged  upon  the  Dalai  Lama  an  imme- 
diate compliance  with  the  British  demands.  No  help  was  forth- 
coming from  Russia,  and,  as  a  final  blow,  the  good  people  of 
Nakchu-ka  said  with  some  firmness  that  the  English  had  already 
killed  many  professional  soldiers  of  the  Tibetans,  and  how  then 
could  peaceable  cattle-drivers  like  themselves  fight  against  them  ? 
Rather  than  come  out  they  would  go  on  pilgrimage.  In  these 
depressing  circumstances,  the  Dalai  Lama  appears  to  have  acted 
somewhat  hurriedly,  and,  so  far  as  can  be  gleaned,  the  Amban 
seems  to  have  had  a  bad  quarter  of  an  hour  with  him.  At  any 
rate,  upon  his  return  through  the  green  parks  of  Lhasa,  which 
separate  the  Potala  from  the  Residency,  his  cogitations  took  a 
definite  shape,  and  the  Viceroy  of  Tibet  sent  an  urgent  request 
to  the  Maharajah  of  Nepal  that  a  thousand  Gurkhas  should  be 
sent  at  once  for  his  protection. 


THE  DALAI  LAMA  SHOWS   HIS   HAND      157 

On  the  side  of  the  Grand  Lama  also  military  preparations  were 
pressed  on.  The  construction  of  a  fort  at  Chu-sul,  forty  miles 
from  Lhasa,  at  the  junction  of  the  Kyi  chu  and  the  Tsang-po,  was 
ordered.  A  new  water-wheel,  presumably  for  the  purpose  of 
turning  a  lathe,  was  set  up  in  the  arsenal,  and,  in  utter  need,  the 
magic  powers  of  the  Sa-kya  monastery,  the  awful  representative 
of  an  old  regime  of  divine  tyrants,  were  called  in,  and  the  incan- 
tations and  charms  of  the  contemned  Red  Cap  faith  rose  up  for 
the  first  time  from  under  the  golden  roofs  of  the  Potala,  Finally, 
two  days  after  our  arrival  in  Gyantse,  the  Tibetans  had  deter- 
mined to  rush  our  post  by  night  and  reoccupy  the  jong.  This  had 
been  attempted  with  partial  success. 

It  will  be  seen  that  there  was  no  real  hope  of  conducting  nego- 
tiations in  Gyantse  even  before  the  morning  of  the  5th  of  May. 
After  that  eventful  moment,  with  the  Tibetans  all  round  us  and 
the  guns  of  the  jong  playing  at  their  will  upon  the  Commissioner's 
residence,  negotiation  was  naturally  farther  off  than  ever.  The 
determination  of  the  Government  to  adhere  to  its  policy  of  con- 
cession to  Russian  susceptibilities  now  crippled  Colonel  Young- 
husband's  right  hand.  The  very  Sikhs  of  the  garrison  came  to 
hear  of  it,  and  said  gloomily  that  unless  this  business  were  car- 
ried through  as  it  should  be  and  in  Lhasa,  they  would  never 
be  able  to  hold  up  their  heads  again  among  their  own  folk  at 
home.  So  long,  however,  as  this  bombardment  lasted,  so  long 
as  the  Tibetans  retained  possession  of  the  jong,  negotiation  on  any 
basis  whatever  was  in  abeyance — except  for  Colonel  Younghus- 
band,  whose  weary  pen  again  and  again  restated  the  position  for 
the  benefit  of  the  Cabinet,  scarcely  one  of  whose  members,  with 
the  exception  of  Lord  Lansdowne,  had  even  a  bowing  acquain- 
tance with  the  East. 

There  is  no  doubt  about  it ;  in  the  East  you  must  do  as  the  East 
does,  if  you  hope  to  achieve  anything  permanently  good  or  per- 
manently great  in  it.  Had  the  two  things  been  necessarily  incom- 
patible, the  jettison  of  Lord  Curzon's  policy  in  order  that  Lord 


158  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

Cromer's  goods  should  be  safely  brought  to  port  might  well  have 
been  accepted  by  every  one,  and  certainly  would  have  been  by 
every  member  of  the  Mission  in  Tibet.  But  this  was  not  put 
forward  as  inevitable,  and  it  seemed  to  us  unfortunate  that  the 
Government  should  not  have  realized  that  the  condition  of  affairs 
had  changed. 

Meanwhile,  the  daily  work  of  defense  had  to  be  done,  and  bet- 
ter provision  had  to  be  made  for  the  mules  whose  old  lines  lay 
under  the  guns  of  the  jong  with  scarcely  a  twig  to  protect  them. 
They  were  given  a  more  secure  position  in  rear  of  the  buildings. 
The  abattis  and  horn-works  were  strengthened,  the  Gurkhas'  gate 
was  re-staked,  wire  entanglements  surrounded  the  entire  post, 
traverses  rose  up  in  every  unprotected  spot,  the  trees  in  the  plan- 
tation to  the  rear  were  cleared  away  for  two  hundred  yards,  and 
the  sentries  were  doubled.  Captain  Ryder's  defenses  of  Chang-lo 
were  subsequently  slightly  extended  by  Captain  Sheppard,  but 
the  latter,  on  his  arrival,  found  the  place  sufficiently  secure  to  en- 
able him  to  devote  all  his  energies  to  the  construction  of  bridges 
and  covered  ways  between  the  main  position  and  the  outposts  at 
the  white  house  and  Pala  village,  which  had  then  been  secured. 

From  day  to  day  it  became  increasingly  uncertain  whether  the 
little  mail-bag,  which  was  taken  out  every  morning  to  be  met  at 
Sau-gang  by  the  dak  runners  from  Kang-ma,  would  ever  reach 
its  destination.  Why  the  Tibetans  did  not  effectually  prevent  this 
mail  remains  a  mystery  to  this  day.  The  bag  was  usually  guarded 
by  four  mounted  men  only,  and  it  had  a  long  road  to  cover,  by 
villages,  from  any  of  which  the  messengers  might  with  impunity 
have  been  shot  down ;  through  defiles  in  which  any  ravine  might 
well  conceal  a  dozen  determined  men;  or  across  the  open  plain, 
where  its  distant  progress  could  be  watched  by  a  sharp-sighted 
man  six  miles  away.  Once  or  twice  a  faint-hearted  attempt  was 
actually  made.  On  one  occasion.  May  20th,  it  was  so  far  success- 
ful that  the  mounted  infantry  were  obliged  to  make  the  best  of 


THE  DALAI  LAMA  SHOWS   HIS   HAND      159 

their  way  into  Chang-lo,  leaving  behind  them  one  mail-bag  and 
one  of  their  number  dead.* 

The  coming  of  the  dak  was  the  one  incident  that  broke  the 
monotony  of  our  daily  life.  The  telegraph  wire  was  with  us  al- 
most from  the  beginning,  and  only  once  was  there  the  slightest 
attempt  to  interfere  with  it  on  the  part  of  the  enemy.  In  this 
connection  an  incident  may  be  noticed  which  reflects  no  small 
credit  upon  Mr.  Truninger.  He,  so  the  story  was  told  to  me, 
with  his  second  in  command,  was  engaged  in  setting  up  posts  and 
laying  the  wires  along  one  portion  of  the  road  to  the  undisguised 
interest  and  curiosity  of  one  or  two  innocent-looking  lamas. 
These  men  persistently  asked  what  was  the  use  of  the  wire.  It 
will  be  seen  that  this  was,  under  the  circumstances,  an  inquiry  the 
true  answer  to  which  might  prove  disastrous  to  our  communica- 
tions. We  had  not  the  men  to  defend  even  ten  miles  of  this  long 
line,  and  without  the  slightest  question  the  wire  would  have  been 
cut  in  twenty  places  a  day  if  the  Tibetans  had  had  the  least  idea 
of  the  enormous  value  it  was  to  us.  But  the  answer  came  simply 
and  earnestly.  "  We  .English,"  said  Truninger,  "  are  in  a 
strange  land,  a  land  of  which  no  foreigner  has  ever  known  any- 
thing ;  our  maps  are  no  good,  and  every  day  we  go  forward  we  are 
like  children  lost  in  a  great  wood.  Therefore  we  lay  this  wire 
behind  us  in  order  that  when  we  have  done  our  business  with 
your  Dalai  Lama  we  may  find  the  road  by  which  we  came  and, 
as  quickly  as  possible,  get  hence  to  England."  Needless  to  say, 
nothing  could  more  effectually  have  secured  the  wire  from  dam- 
age, as  the  single  ambition  of  the  Tibetans  from  the  first  was  to 
be  rid  of  us  as  quickly  as  possible. 

The  result  of  this  forbearance  on  the  part  of  the  enemy  was 

that  we  often  received  the  news  in  the  first  editions  of  the  evening 

^  This  dead  man  was  the  only  one  left  in  the  hands  of  the  Tibetans  through- 
out the  expedition.  His  head  was  afterward  found  to  have  been  hacked  off  and 
sent  to  Lhasa  to  substantiate  a  claim  to  the  grant  of  land  offered  by  the  Dalai 
Lama  in  return  for  every  head  of  a  member  of  the  expedition. 


i6o  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

papers  in  London  before  we  sat  down  to  dinner  the  same  evening. 
In  point  of  actual  time  we  received  such  news  within  three  hours 
of  its  publication,  while  the  news  which  we  sent  westward  at 
times  reached  London  long  before  the  nominal  hour  at  which  it 
had  been  despatched  from  Gyantse.  Ordinarily,  however,  mes- 
sages took  about  three  hours  apparent  time,  that  is  to  say,  eight 
or  nine  hours  actual  time,  in  reaching  their  destination  in  London. 
Diaries  of  sieges  are  dull.  There  was  always  plenty  to  do,  but 
it  lacked  distinction,  although  under  other  circumstances  much 
of  it  would  have  been  exciting  enough.  One  day,  or  rather  one 
night,  there  were  water  channels,  supplying  the  town,  to  be  cut 
or  dammed;  there  was  a  patrol  to  be  sent  out,  with  the  general 
intention  of  rendering  night  traveling  unhealthy  for  the  Tibetans ; 
later  on,  there  was  a  two-hundred-yard  length  of  covered  way  to 
be  made  in  the  exposed  plain.  Another  day  some  of  the  houses 
in  the  plain  behind  us,  which  the  Tibetans  were  holding,  had  to  be 
cleared  of  their  occupants.  Another  time  there  was  a  bridge  to 
be  built  beyond  the  end  of  the  plantation,  just  within  the  furthest 
range  of  the  jingals  from  the  rock.  These  jingals  generally  gave 
the  first  intimation  that  the  dak  was  arriving.  Besides  their  regu- 
lar morning  bombardment,  and  one  equally  inevitable  about  half- 
past  four,  they  reserved  aim  and  ammunition  for  the  dak  riders, 
whom  from  their  high  eyrie  they  could  easily  see  as  they  crossed 
the  bridge  and  made  their  way  through  the  trees  of  the  plantation 
to  the  southern  entrance  of  the  post.^  All  day  long  there  was 
something  to  be  done;  I  spent  the  late  afternoons  in  acquiring  a 
smattering  of  Tibetan.  The  wind  used  to  spring  up  daily  about 
three  o'clock,  whirling  a  shower  of  catkins  from  the  willows  be- 
side the  wall  of  the  Mission  garden,  and  driving  a  penetrating 
storm  of  grit  through  the  post.  Out  across  the  plain,  the  long 
trails  of  smoke  from  the  burning  houses  were  dissipated  into  the 

*  I  do  not  think  that  a  single  man  was  ever  hit  in  this  way,  but  the  amount 
of  lead  the  Tibetans  thus  used  was  extraordinary. 


THE  DALAI  LAMA  SHOWS   HIS   HAND      i6i 

low-lying  blue  haze  of  the  distant  hills,  and  added  another  glory 
to  the  sunset  scene. 

On  the  19th  of  May  it  was  decided  to  clear  what  was  known  af- 
terward as  the  Gurkha  post.  This  was  a  white  house  600  yards 
away  from  Chang-lo  straight  in  the  direction  of  the  jong.  The 
Tibetans  had  occupied  it  with  sixty  men,  and  it  was  imperative 
that  they  should  at  once  be  dislodged.  Before  dawn  the  storm- 
ing-party,  under  Lieutenant  Gurdon,  moved  out,  followed  by  the 
Gurkhas  of  the  garrison.  The  main  doors  of  the  house  were 
blown  in,  and  the  place  carried  by  assault  in  a  quarter  of  an  hour ; 
our  casualties  were  insignificant,  and  before  the  sun  was  well  up 
the  house  was  occupied  by  a  single  company  of  the  attacking 
force,  which  remained  in  this  exposed  position  during  the  re- 
mainder of  our  stay  at  Gyantse.  Against  this  house  the  chief 
fury  of  the  Tibetans  was  thenceforward  directed;  night  after 
night  it  was  surrounded  and  had  to  beat  off  the  Tibetan  forces. 
Day  after  day  it  was  pounded  by  the  guns  on  the  jong,  which  here 
seemed  to  rise  almost  perpendicularly  above  the  house.  A  wall 
was  built  up  by  the  Tibetans  from  the  westward  corner  of  the 
jong  toward  the  river,  and  from  two  embrasures  in  it  a  continual 
bombardment  was  kept  up  upon  the  defenders  of  the  post.  On 
the  following  day  occurred  the  attack  upon  the  mail  escort,  to 
which  I  have  already  referred.  On  this  occasion  Captain  Ottley, 
who  went  out  with  the  mounted  infantry  to  the  rescue  of  the 
dak  runners,  drove  the  Tibetans  headlong  from  two  farms, 
hut  found  them  so  strongly  ensconced  about  four  miles  further 
on  that  he  was  himself  obliged  to  retire,  impeded  by  the  necessity 
of  escorting  two  wounded  and  five  unmounted  men. 

On  the  2 1st  a  small  force  rnoved  out  under  Colonel  Brander  to 
dear  the  plain  to  the  south ;  they  captured  and  burned  three  farms 
held  by  the  enemy,  and  returned  to  camp  on  receiving  a  report 
that  the  enemy  were  moving  out  from  Gyantse  to  attack  Chang-lo. 
Colonel  Brander  did  not  allow  the  grass  to  grow  under  his  feet, 


i62  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

and  five  days  later  he  swept  the  Tibetans  from  Pala  village,  the 
most  important  position  that  they  held,  except  the  jong  itself. 

The  taking  of  Pala  was  one  of  the  most  creditable  bits  of  work 
done  by  the  garrison.  In  utter  darkness,  before  the  dawn.  Colo- 
nel Brander  sent  out  a  small  column,  composed  of  three  hundred 
rifles,  four  g^ns,  and  a  Maxim.  Their  objective  was  this  hamlet, 
where  the  Tibetans  had  been  strengthening  a  position  and  mount- 
ing guns  for  the  previous  two  or  three  days.  This  danger  at  all 
costs  had  to  be  prevented.  Pala  enfiladed  nearly  the  whole  of  our 
defenses,  and  was  barely  1,200  yards  away  to  the  north-east.  The 
relative  positions  of  Chang-lo,  Pala,  and  the  jong  were,  roughly 
speaking,  those  of  the  points  of  an  equilateral  triangle;  the  road 
from  Gyantse  to  Lhasa  runs  through  Pala ;  and  the  occupation  of 
this  post  gave  us  practical  command  of  all  direct  communications 
with  the  capital.  For  more  reasons  than  one  the  place  had  to  be 
taken,  and  Colonel  Brander's  scheme  was  in  its  conception  admir- 
able. The  guns  were  posted  on  an  eminence,  a  quarter  of  a  mile 
away  to  the  north-east,  which  completely  dominated  the  village. 
After  skirting  round  the  village  to  the  south-east  his  plan  was  to 
develop  an  attack  in  the  first  place  upon  the  house  which  was 
nearest  to  the  jong.  For  this  purpose  Captain  Sheppard  and  Cap- 
tain O'Connor  were  deputed,  with  half-a-dozen  men,  to  open  the 
assault  by  blowing  in  the  wall  of  the  next  house,  which  wholly 
commanded  it.  At  the  same  time  Lieutenant  Garstin,  with  Lieu- 
tenant Walker,  R.E.,  was  sent  a  few  yards  further  to  breach  the 
house  itself.  Major  Peterson,  with  two  companies  of  the  32d  » 
Pioneers,  was  to  follow  up  the  explosions  with  an  instant  rush. 
This  was  the  plan ;  what  actually  happened  was  entirely  different. 

The  column  moved  slowly  through  the  darkness,  until  its  lead- 
ing ranks  were  within  fifty  yards  of  the  high  road  to  Lhasa.  At 
that  moment  a  small  party  of  three  unsuspecting  Tibetans  tramped 
slowly  along  it,  and  though  Colonel  Brander  believed  that  not  one 
of  his  men  was  actually  seen,  it  is  possible  that,  in  some  way. 


THE  DALAI  LAMA  SHOWS   HIS   HAND      163 

these  men  were  able  to  give  the  alarm  to  the  defenders  of  the  post. 
Certainly  there  seems  to  be  no  reason  to  charge  any  member  of 
the  attacking  column  with  carelessness,  or  even  an  accident.  But 
the  Tibetans  were  on  the  alert,  and,  as  soon  as  the  first  figures 
were  visible  in  the  obscurity,  a  hot  fire  was  poured  upon  them 
from  the  roofs  of  all  the  houses  in  the  village.  The  two  storm- 
ing-parties  had  by  this  time  reached  a  low  wall,  thirty  yards  from 
the  house  to  be  attacked,  and  there  was  nothing  else  to  be  done  but 
to  make  a  dash  for  it.  Captain  Sheppard,  followed  by  Captain 
O'Connor,  vaulted  over  the  wall,  and  ran  forward  into  the  nar- 
row lane  between  the  two  houses.  From  a  doorway  in  the  fore- 
most house,  opening  into  this  passage,  three  Tibetans  rushed  out 
with  matchlocks  and  swords.  Captain  Sheppard  drew  his  re- 
volver and  shot  two  of  them,  set  the  cake  of  gun-cotton  under 
the  wall,  and  lit  the  fuse.  He  then  ran  back,  preceded  by  the 
third  Tibetan,  who,  however,  escaped  into  the  door  again.  At  the 
same  time,  beside  the  smaller  house,  Garstin  and  Walker  were 
setting  up  their  explosive,  and  everything  seemed  to  promise  im- 
mediate success  on  the  lines  that  Colonel  Brander  had  mapped  out. 
Garstin's  fuse,  however,  refused  to  act,  and  only  Sheppard's  ef- 
fected its  purpose.  An  earth-shaking  roar  was  followed  by  blind- 
ing dust,  through  which  it  was  impossible  to  see  the  full  extent 
of  the  damage  done.  But  all  firing  ceased  for  the  moment,  and  in 
one  house  at  least  a  breach,  big  enough  for  the  entrance  of  the 
supporting  companies,  had  been  made.    No  one  came. 

It  appeared  afterward  that  Major  Peterson's  men  had  found 
it  impossible  to  advance  in  the  face  of  the  fire  from  the  houses, 
and  instead  of  moving  westward  to  the  place  from  which  they 
could  carry  out  the  work  begun  by  the  storming-parties,  they  took 
up  a  sheltered  position  to  the  east  in  a  garden,  where  they  re- 
mained until  the  well-directed  fire  of  "  Bubble  "  and  "  Squeak  " 
enabled  them  to  advance.  The  little  storming-party  was  indeed 
also  supported  by  a  company  of  the  same  regiment  on  its  flank. 


i64  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

which  had  occupied  a  position  in  the  sunken  road  a  hundred  yards 
from  the  house,  and  did  not  understand  the  dangers  in  which  the 
two  small  bodies  of  men  under  Captain  Sheppard  were  in  a  mo- 
ment placed.  These  men  were  thus  entirely  cut  off,  and  both 
houses  were  full  of  Tibetans. 

O'Connor  acted  with  great  presence  of  mind.  He  had  his  own 
cake  of  gun-cotton  intact,  and,  by  the  merest  chance,  the  door 
through  which  the  surviving  Tibetan  had  escaped  back  into  the 
house  was  left  unfastened.  Attended  by  one  Sikh  only,  O'Connor 
dashed  through  into  the  unoccupied  house.  Luckily  every  man 
in  it  was  on  the  roof ;  for  that  very  reason  he  considered  it  neces- 
sary to  go  up  on  to  the  first  floor,  in  order  more  effectively  to  ex- 
plode the  charge.  Followed  by  his  companion,  he  dashed  up  the 
slippery  iron-sheathed  ladder,  and  set  his  cake  in  the  corner  where 
it  would  do  most  damage.  The  men  on  the  roof  had  seen  him, 
and  in  a  rain  of  badly  aimed  bullets  he  lighted  the  fuse  and,  to 
use  his  own  phrase,  "  ran  like  a  rabbit."  His  Sikh  companion  in 
his  excitement  caught  his  rifle,  to  which  the  bayonet  was  attached, 
between  a  wooden  pillar  and  the  hand-rail  of  the  stairs,  thus 
completely  barring  the  descent.  Fuses  used  by  storming-parties 
are,  naturally,  short,  and  the  stage  directions  for  the  descent  of 
O'Connor  and  his  man  would  have :  "  exeunt  confusedly."  Pick- 
ing themselves  up  at  the  bottom  they  made  for  the  door,  which, 
however,  they  did  not  reach  before  the  explosion  took  place. 
O'Connor  never  has  given  a  very  lucid  description  of  the  moment, 
but  the  fact  that  in  his  inside  pocket  a  thick  cut-glass  flask  was 
smashed  to  pieces  by  the  shock  shows  that  his  escape  was  a  nar- 
row one  indeed.  Sheppard  outside  saw  with  horror  half  of  one 
of  the  walls  of  the  house  subside  in  yellow  dust  before  a  sign  of 
O'Connor  was  visible  at  the  doorway. 

Soon  after  this  a  second  attempt  of  Garstin's  was  more  success- 
ful, but  in  the  absence  of  any  support,  the  position  of  the  little 
storming-parties  was  dangerous  indeed.    Soon  afterward,  as  we 


THE  DALAI   LAMA  SHOWS   HIS   HAND      165 

were  to  hear  with  the  deepest  regret,  Garstin  was  killed  outright, 
and  O'Connor  was  seriously  wounded  by  a  ball  through  the 
shoulder,  before  safe  quarters  could  be  taken  up.  In  fact,  these 
exposed  sections  suffered  all  the  more  serious  casualties  of  the 
day,  and  in  number  no  less  than  eight  out  of  a  total  of  eleven. 

As  soon  as  it  was  light  enough,  the  guns  on  the  little  hill  opened 
fire  upon  the  still  strongly  held  houses  to  the  east  of  the  village, 
and  Major  Peterson  showed  great  gallantry  in  bringing  up  his 
Pioneers  through  the  gardens  and  houses,  taking  each  by  storm  in 
turn.  The  fighting  was  severe,  for  with  the  rising  of  the  sun  the 
Tibetans  found  themselves  caught  without  the  chance  of  escape. 
The  jong  lay  1,200  yards  away,  but  to  reach  it  fugitives  were 
obliged  to  cross  an  entirely  coverless  plain.  Their  fellows  in  the 
town  could  be  of  little  assistance  to  them.  One  plucky  attempt  on 
the  part  of  a  score  of  mounted  men  was,  indeed,  made,  but  the 
enterprise  was  hopeless;  riding  straight  into  the  zone  swept  by 
the  Maxims,  hardly  three  of  them  escaped  back.  Nor  did  the 
bombardment,  which  the  jong  opened  at  the  first  streak  of  light, 
help  the  defenders  of  the  village.  With  an  impartial  hand  the 
gunners  showered  their  balls  upon  friend  and  foe  alike,  and  to 
this  cannonade  some  at  least  of  the  Tibetan  casualties  among  the 
crowded  houses  of  Pala  must  have  been  due.  A  stout  defense 
against  overwhelming  odds  was  made  for  a  short  time;  but  as 
the  morning  wore  on,  the  Tibetans  abandoned  their  loop-holes 
and  their  windows,  and  fled  to  their  labyrinth  of  underground 
cellars,  where  they  crouched  in  the  darkness,  and  with  their 
matchlocks  ready,  formed  a  far  more  formidable  antagonist  than 
in  the  open  air.  The  place  was  practically  cleared  by  one  o'clock, 
though  for  two  or  three  days  afterward  a  considerable  number 
of  undiscovered  Tibetans  crept  quietly  away  under  cover  of  the 
darkness  of  the  night. 

In  the  center  of  the  village  was  a  large  and  comfortable  house, 
owned  by  the  Pala  family,  one  of  the  most  aristocratic  stocks 


1 66  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

in  Tibet.  Besides  a  well-built  three-storied  house,  there  was 
also  the  usual  little  summer-house  beneath  the  trees  of  the 
garden.  The  excellent  workmanship  of  the  few  things,  such  as 
tea-pots  and  brass  images,  which  were  found  in  the  house  gave 
proof  of  the  luxury  of  its  late  occupants,  A  more  significant 
find,  however,  was  the  discovery  of  two  heavy  jingals  in  the 
cellars.  It  is  a  little  difficult  to  account  for  their  presence. 
They  had  certainly  not  been  brought  there  recently,  and  it  is 
curious  that  the  Tibetans  in  bringing  guns  even  from  Lhasa 
itself,  for  the  purpose  of  bombarding  our  post,  should  have  over- 
looked within  a  mile  of  Gyantse  two  pieces  throwing  a  ball  as 
heavy  as  those  which  they  had  laboriously  transported  from  a 
distance.  The  larger  of  the  two  guns  weighed  over  four  hun- 
dred pounds,  the  diameter  of  its  bore  was  three  inches,  and  the 
outside  was  curiously  fluted.  It  was  made  of  gun-metal,  and 
altogether  seemed  serviceable  enough  for  the  limited  ballistic 
requirements  of  Tibetans. 

The  village  was  occupied  by  a  detachment  of  the  Pioneers, 
whose  exploits  were  recognized  in  their  Colonel's  orders  on  the 
following  day.  It  is  perhaps  a  pity  that  the  work  of  the  storm- 
ing-parties  did  not  receive  acknowledgment,  though  the  sur- 
vivors of  them,  wounded  or  not,  were  the  last  people  to  notice 
the  omission.  It  was  a  good  piece  of  work,  and  Colonel  Brander 
is  to  be  congratulated.  The  delay  of  even  twenty-four  hours 
in  capturing  this  village  might  have  made  a  serious  difference 
to  the  defense  of  Chang-lo,  and  when  the  Tibetans  had  once 
been  driven  out  the  fullest  use  was  made  by  us  of  this  second 
point  d'appui. 

The  situation  created  by  the  capture  of  Pala  was  briefly  this : 
the  English  force  was  placed  in  a  strong  position  with  regard  to. 
the  jong;  we  were  enabled  to  cut  the  communications  of  the 
Tibetans  eastward,  and,  by  holding  the  bridge  at  Chang-lo  itself, 
communication  with  the  south  was  only  possible  after  the  river 


THE  DALAI  LAMA  SHOWS   HIS   HAND      167 

had  risen  by  going  five  miles  down  stream  to  the  bridge  at 
Tse-chen.  We  had  for  some  time  been  able  to  keep  the  Tibetans 
under  cover  all  the  day;  a  few  sharp-shooters  and  Lieutenant 
Hadow,  with  an  itching  thumb  upon  the  trigger-lever  of  his 
Maxim,  had  long  made  it  impossible  for  any  Tibetan  to  show 
himself  by  daylight  on  any  part  of  the  jong,  or  in  so  much 
of  the  town  as  was  visible  from  the  roof  of  the  Commissioner's 
house.  But  we  had  hitherto  of  course  been  unable  to  stop  steady 
communication  with  Lhasa  by  night.  Now,  however,  we  were 
astride  the  road,  and  an  occasional  patrol  was  all  that  was  neces- 
sary to  prevent  the  Tibetans  holding  any  communication  with 
their  capital,  except  by  the  circuitous  and  difficult  track,  which 
could  only  be  followed  by  retreating  thirty  miles  down  the  valley 
of  the  Nyang  chu. 

On  our  side  we  were  still  surrounded,  and  it  was  a  daily 
uncertainty  every  morning  whether  our  thin  line  of  communi- 
cations would  have  continued  to  exist  through  the  night.  We 
were  therefore  in  a  curious  situation,  both  sides  besieging  the 
other;  and  the  word  investment  (which  was  generally  used  to 
describe  our  position)  is  not  perhaps  strictly  accurate.  The  hon- 
ors were  pretty  evenly  divided ;  neither  the  Tibetans  nor  we  were 
able  to  storm  the  others'  defenses;  a  mutual  fusillade  compelled 
each  side  to  protect  its  occupants  by  an  elaborate  system  of  trav- 
erses ;  and  straying  beyond  the  narrow  limits  of  the  fortifications 
was,  on  either  side,  severely  discouraged  by  the  other.  The  Tib- 
etans had,  however,  two  considerable  advantages.  They  were 
fighting  in  their  own  country,  and  in  numbers  they  probably  ex- 
ceeded us  by  ten  to  one.  For  them,  every  village  or  house  that 
dotted  the  wide  plain  round  us  was  a  refuge,  and  might  also  be- 
come a  post  from  which  to  operate  against  us.  The  loss  of  a  few 
men  now  and  then  mattered  little  to  them;  they  had  the  whole 
of  Tibet  from  which  to  make  good  their  casualties,  and  from 
almost  the  same  wide  recruiting  ground  reinforcements  crept 


1 68  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

in  nightly  in  small  companies.  Sometimes  in  the  past  they  had 
ventured  in  during  the  daylight,  bent  double,  running  from 
cover  to  cover  like  hares,  now  waiting  for  a  quarter  of  an  hour 
behind  a  friendly  overhanging  bank,  now  making  quick  time 
to  the  shelter  of  a  white-washed  chorten,  or  a  ruined  wall.  But 
our  success  at  Pala  made  a  great  difference  to  the  relative  po- 
sitions of  ourselves  and  the  Tibetans. 


CHAPTER   X 

LIFE  IN  THE  BESIEGED  POST 

AT  Gyantse,  from  dawn  till  sunset,  there  was  generally  a 
AIL  breeze.  Except  for  an  hour  or  two  in  the  white  heat  of 
mid-day  the  lightly  strung  leaves  of  the  branching  Lombardy 
poplars  in  the  compound  were  every  moment  shifting  edge-ways 
to  the  faint  indraft  from  the  plain,  and,  overhead,  the  long  strings 
of  prayer-flags,  orange  and  faded  gray  and  gauzy  chrome,  rocked 
gently  in  the  stirring  air.  Silent  the  post  never  was  by  day, 
not  even  in  the  motionless  glare  of  noontide  when  the  wind  was 
stifled  and  the  heat  sweated  out  from  the  wide  empty  plains, 
a  teeming  mirage  veil.  These  were  the  hours  which  the  shrill 
whistle  of  the  kite  or  the  monotone  of  the  hoopoe  filled — hours 
when  the  petty  restlessness  of  a  camp,  even  in  the  hour  of  siesta, 
assumed  ear-compelling  importance.  Never  during  the  day 
could  one  hear  the  faint  rush  and  race  of  the  Nyang  chu  over 
its  pebbles  a  hundred  yards  away.  At  night  there  was  no  other 
sound. 

Gyantse  under  the  stars  will  remain  an  impressive  memory 
for  every  one  in  the  little  post  at  Chang-lo.  Perhaps  the  picture 
of  the  nights  there  is  worth  giving  so  far  as  one  can.  Close 
behind  the  fortified  parapet  of  the  Commissioner's  house  the 
trees  stood  up  with  their  sable  branches  sharply  etched  against 
the  powdered  spaces  of  the  night  sky.  One  had  to  look  upward 
at  them  to  be  sure  that  it  was  not,  indeed,  their  rustling,  but  the 
voice  of  the  river  that  hushed  the  silence  and  was  itself  muted 
by  the  distant  bark  of  a  dog  or  the  lifted  heel-chain  of  a  rest- 

169 


I70  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

less  mule  in  the  lines  below.  Far  behind,  straightly  ascending 
like  a  column  of  phosphorescent  smoke,  the  Milky  Way  ribbed 
the  sky  to  the  south-southwest.  Beneath  it,  the  heavy  sloping 
buttress  of  the  redoubt  stood  out  boldly,  the  outer  angle  cutting 
sharply  across  the  line  of  the  river  as  it  flowed  westward  in  its 
shadowy  channel,  only  a  little  brighter  than  the  sky,  till  a  curve 
carried  it  behind  the  thin  fringe  of  sallows,  where  all  day  the 
rosefinches  chattered  in  a  crowd. 

Looking  downward  over  the  sand-bags,  the  thick  tangle  of 
the  nearest  abattis  is  barely  seen,  and  beyond  it  the  plain  is  only 
certainly  broken  by  an  acre  patch  of  iris,  or  by  the  darkness 
under  a  clump  of  trees.  These,  uncertain  in  the  gloom  below, 
are  blackly  silhouetted  above,  over  the  outline  of  the  distant  hills 
which  are  clear  against  the  sky  of  the  horizon  round;  for  in 
these  pure  altitudes  the  stars  invisibly  assert  themselves,  and 
interstellar  space  has  a  half-latent  illumination  of  its  own,  against 
which  the  peaks  and  saddles  of  these  Himalayan  spurs  are  better 
defined  than  on  a  moonlight  night.  At  the  end  of  the  parapet 
is  a  sheeted  Maxim,  and  beside  its  muzzle  the  motionless  sentry 
looks  out  into  the  night  toward  the  jong.  All  day  long  the 
high  rock  and  its  forts,  clean  cut  in  the  bright  air,  have  towered 
up  against  the  ash  and  ocher  of  the  distant  mountains,  scored 
and  scarred  with  sharp  water  channels,  cut  fan-wise  by  a  thou- 
sand of  the  brief  rains  of  these  high  uplands.  Six  hours  ago 
every  stone  of  it  could  be  counted ;  now  it  had  vanished  and  the 
blank  levels  run  to  the  foot  of  the  distant  ranges.  Other  fa- 
miliar things  but  a  few  yards  away — a  worn  foot-path,  a  clay 
drinking-trough,  or  a  half  up-rooted  tree-stump — have  vanished 
with  the  jong.  Pala  village  is  faintly  betrayed  in  the  distance 
by  its  whitened  walls,  but  even  of  that  there  is  no  certainty. 
Six  hundred  yards  to  the  front  the  position  of  the  Gurkha  Post 
is  only  distinguished  by  the  trees  which  cut  the  sky  line  over  it. 

As  one  peers  out  into  the  warm  night,  a  long  monotone  is 


LIFE  IN  THE  BESIEGED  POST  171 

faintly  droned  from  the  darkness  ahead.  It  is  one  of  the  huge 
■conch  shells  in  the  jong  and  it  may  only  mean  a  call  to  prayer 
—the  "  hours  "  of  Lamaism  are  unending— but  as  the  moaning 
note  persists  softly  and  steadily,  a  vivid  speck  of  flame  stabs 
the  darkness  across  the  river.  A  second  later  the  report  of 
the  gun  accompanies  a  prolonged  "  the-e-es  "  overhead.  There 
is  another  and  another,  and  the  balls  chase  each  other  through 
the  trees.  The  Tibetans  are  out  for  the  night.  A  heavy  fire 
breaks  out  for  two  or  three  hundred  yards  along  the  further 
hank,  the  neater  crack  of  the  European  rifles  in  their  possession 
blending  with  the  heavy  explosion  of  matchlocks  an  inch  in  bore, 
and  the  malicious  swish  of  the  conical  bullets  with  the  drone  of 
leaden  lumps. 

The  sentry  moves  inward  shadow-like  and  rouses  an  oflicer 
sleeping  in  a  corner  of  the  parapet.  It  is  only  a  word  or  two, 
**  Water-gate,  sir."  As  the  fire  increases,  the  garrison,  a  ghostly 
company  of  half-seen  men,  move  silently  and  mechanically  to 
their  posts  from  their  beds  behind  the  traverses.  After  a  little, 
•  the  officer  of  the  watch  comes  round  and  one  hears  a  few  whis- 
pered words  in  the  compound  below.  But  this  has  happened 
so  often,  night  after  night,  that  there  is  not  much  to  do;  the 
defenses  are  manned  without  question  needed  or  answer  given. 
A  minute  or  two  later  there  is  hardly  a  change  to  be  noted  in  the. 
quietness  of  the  post,  except  for  the  wail  of  the  bullets  over- 
head, and  the  occasional  inevitable  cough  of  the  awakened  Se- 
poys. But  the  post  is  ready  from  end  to  end,  and  the  oflftcer 
at  his  Maxim  traverses  her  snub  muzzle  once  or  twice  to  see 
that  she  runs  easily. 

The  conch  drones  again  from  the  hidden  jong.  Nothing  is 
easier  now  than  to  people  the  darkness  with  creeping  figures. 
One  seems  to  have  seen  them — one  always  seems  too  late  actually 
to  see  them — here  and  there  in  the  obscurity,  but  the  small  force 
betraying  its  front  by  the  flashes  across  the  river  is  the  only 


172  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

certain  thing.  These  men  keep  up  a  persistent  but  useless  fire, 
though  not  a  shot  is  returned.  The  spots  of  flame  jerk  out  of 
the  night  along  a  widening  front,  but  there  is  no  sign  of  an 
advance,  and,  failing  to  draw  any  response  from  us,  the  aimless 
fusillade  slackens  after  a  time.  From  the  enemy's  position, 
Chang-lo  must  seem  a  sleeping,  almost  a  deserted,  post.  But  the 
Tibetans  have  been  taught  a  severe  lesson  time  after  time,  and 
they  will  not  easily  come  on.  Two  or  three,  indeed,  of  their 
hardiest  come  right  up  to  the  other  side  of  the  bridge  and,  at 
a  range  of  sixty  yards,  fire  straight  into  the  mud  walls  of  the 
water-gate.  There  is  a  rifle  muzzle  out  of  every  loophole  that 
commands  the  bridge,  of  which  the  seven  sagging  bays  may 
just  be  seen  against  the  dim  stream  from  a  corner  of  the  re- 
doubt. But  not  a  sound  of  life  is  betrayed.  The  Tibetan 
"  braves  "  fire  half-a-dozen  shots  along  the  roadway  and  then  go 
back  to  urge  on  their  reluctant  followers.  There  is  a  momentary 
increase  in  the  firing,  but  the  sparks  of  flame  have  not  moved  up 
a  yard,  and  the  faint  sound  dies  down  again  into  silence.  It  is 
difficult  to  convince  oneself  that  anything  has  happened,  so  com- 
pletely has  the  night  swallowed  up  everything  except  the  chuckle 
of  the  river  over  its  stones. 

After  a  lull  of  twenty  minutes  it  is  clear  that  no  attack  is 
^o  be  brought,  at  least  against  the  central  post.  There  was  per- 
haps no  real  intention  on  the  part  of  the  Tibetans  to  follow 
up  their  volleys  ;•  we  are  much  too  strong  and  they  know  it ;  their 
real  object  is  disclosed  as  we  watch.  Round  the  detached  Gur- 
kha posts  the  darkness  is  suddenly  pierced  by  a  hundred  tongues 
of  flame,  and  upon  the  rattle  of  the  muskets,  a  babel  of  excited 
shouting  follows.  The  enemy  have  surrounded  the  house. 
Again  and  again  the  Tibetan  war-cry  is  caught  up.  It  is  like 
nothing  in  the  world  so  much  as  the  quick  and  staccato  yell 
of  a  jackal  pack,  and  it  carries  for  two  miles  on  a  still  night. 
One  from  another  the  Tibetans  take  up  the  weird  cadences  in 


LIFE  IN  THE  BESIEGED  POST  173 

an  uprising  falsetto,  reviving  and  again  reviving  the  hubbub 
whenever  there  seems  any  chance  of  its  dying  down.  But  the 
Gurkha  house  is  mute,  though  its  walls  re-echo  with  the  din. 
Then  the  Tibetans  adopt  another  course.  Shouting  together 
in  groups,  they  pour  forth  challenges  and  contempt  upon  the 
little  garrison  of  forty  or  fifty  Gurkhas.  One  or  two  swagger- 
ers come  up  within  fifty  yards  of  the  very  loopholes  and  scream 
out  a  flood  of  foul  abuse.  There  is  never  a  word  or  a  shot  in 
reply,  and  the  braves  retire.  The  fire  re-opens  and  the  enemy 
advance  a  little.  Even  the  most  timid  Tibetan  takes  heart  and 
looses  off  his  piece  a  little  less  wildly. 

Inside  the  post,  the  Gurkhas  stand  aside  in  the  darkness  be- 
side their  loopholes,  through  which  a  bullet  whizzes  every  now 
and  then,  burying  itself  in  the  mud  wall  opposite.  Two  men  keep 
watch  for  the  rest,  and  Mewa,  the  jemadar,  bides  his  time  till 
he  has  word  from  them.  The  war-cry  breaks  out  again,  rising 
and  falling  like  the  bellowing  falsetto  of  the  mules'  lines  at 
feeding  time,  and  the  Tibetans  grow  confident  and  move  for- 
ward, until  a  dim  ring  of  them  can  just  be  seen  from  inside 
the  post.  The  fire  re-doubles,  and  a  Gurkha  is  hit  in  the  neck, 
but  still  there  is  not  a  sign  of  life  about  the  house.  The  excite- 
ment of  watching  this  attack  from  the  roof  of  the  post  is  as  fresh 
to-night  as  if  it  were  the  first  time  we  were  seeing  one. 

There  must  be  about  a  thousand  of  the  enemy.  From  Chang-lo 
we  can  hear  them  chattering  and  shrieking  together,  keeping 
their  courage  up  with  noise.  One  thinks  of  the  fate  that  awaits 
every  soul  in  that  little  garrison  should  they  be  caught  unawares 
some  night,  and  one  blesses  the  foolishness  of  the  noisy  Tibetans. 

But  the  time  is  almost  ripe.  Mewa  takes  the  place  of  one 
of  his  watchmen  and  looks  down  keenly  through  the  dark.  Af- 
ter a  while,  he  is  reluctantly  convinced  that  the  enemy  cannot 
be  induced  to  come  forward  again  for  some  time,  and  he  knows 
that  the  strain  on  his  men  has  become  severe.     There  is  sud- 


174  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

denly  a  movement  among  twenty  or  thirty  Tibetans ;  they  move 
round  almost  out  of  sight  for  a  rush  at  the  stake-protected  door. 
From  the  parapet,  we  can  hear  a  quick  double  whistle.  It  is  the 
awaited  signal,  for  the  Gurkha  post  will  risk  no  storming-party. 

In  a  moment  there  is  pandemonium.  From  every  window  and 
loophole,  and  from  between  the  sand-bags  and  through  the  crev- 
ices on  the  roof,  a  burst  of  Maxim-like  fire  is  poured  into  the 
misty  ring  of  men,  which  envelops  the  building,  and  the  air  aches 
with  the  incessant  snap  of  the  rifle  and  the  very  short  scream 
of  the  bullet.  In  another  moment  all  is  over.  The  Tibetans 
have  broken  and  are  flying  into  the  night,  leaving  five  or  six 
dead  behind  them.  Their  road  back  to  the  jong  lies  flat  and  free 
before  them,  and  they  never  look  back.  The  Maxim  fire  has 
stopped  as  suddenly  as  it  had  begun.  Silence  falls  upon  every- 
thing as  before.  Only  the  first  rays  of  the  rising  moon  strike 
full  upon  the  upper  terraces  and  towers  of  the  jong,  and  the  mass 
of  it  emerges  from  the  distant  darkness  edged  with  silver  and 
strangely  near.  It  is  still  some  two  hours  before  sunrise,  but 
as  the  moon  frees  herself  from  behind  the  hills  to  the  east, 
the  first  faint  ripple  stirs  the  leaves  overhead,  and  the  silence  of 
the  night  is  lost. 

After  the  sun  had  risen  the  day  became  monotonous,  and 
the  monotony  was  repeated  daily,  from  week's  end  to  week's 
end.  Even  the  poor  interest  of  watching  the  first  appearance 
of  the  vegetables  in  the  garden  palled.  There  was  a  day  when 
nine  little  green  points  promised  nine  bean  plants  to  come. 
Day  after  day  added  two  or  three  to  this  number,  but  after 
the  appearance  of  thirty-eight,  there  was  not  only  a  cessation 
of  further  evidence  of  fertility,  but  a  lamentable  check  in  the 
development  of  the  plants  already  above  ground.  At  one  time 
the  peas,  two  little  square  plots  planted  with  a  generosity  of  seed 
which  would  have  scandalized  Messrs.  Sutton,  arose  in  ranks 
almost  in  a  single  night,  and  a  few  days  afterward  were  about 


LIFE  IN  THE  BESIEGED  POST  175 

three  inches  in  height.  Captain  Walton,  to  whose  hands  the 
Mission  had  intrusted  this  responsible  duty,  assured  us  that 
all  was  going  well.  Both  the  beans  and  peas  were,  he  assured 
us,  of  a  dwarf  variety.  Indeed,  he  seemed  to  suggest,  with 
apparent  self-conviction,  that  had  these  two  plots  exhibited  any 
further  intention  of  growth  he  would  have  despaired  of  the 
dishes  we  were  looking  forward  to.  The  carrots  made  no  at- 
tempt to  justify  their  credit,  except  in  a  prodigious  growth  of 
green  feathery  leaves.  To  them,  and  to  the  radishes,  one  fault 
was  common.  Where  one  expected  to  find  the  best  part,  a  thin 
leather-bootlace-like  root  descended  weedily  into  our  carefully 
prepared  loam.  Nor,  so  far  as  I  was  ever  able  to  ascertain,  was 
a  single  dish  of  any  vegetable,  except  mustard-and-cress,  pro- 
duced from  our  carefully  tended  and  certainly  Eve-less  garden. 

There  was  very  little  to  do  from  morn  to  night.  Captain 
Ryder  planned  the  defenses  of  the  post.  Construction  and 
demolition  were  alike  in  his  hands;  and  the  ultimate  result  of 
his  care  and  technical  skill  was  quaintly  embodied  one  day  by 
Colonel  Brander  in  a  sentence  in  the  orders, — Si  monumentum 
quaeris,  circumspice.  The  original  phrase  referred,  indeed,  to 
a  structure  which  served  as  a  tomb,  nor  perhaps  was  the  quota- 
tion strictly  accurate,  but  Colonel  Brander's  intention  was  de- 
lightfully clear,  and  every  soul  in  the  garrison  of  each  one  of 
the  many  races  there  represented  most  cordially  echoed  the 
phrase. 

The  direction  from  which  most  danger  was  to  be  expected 
was  that  of  the  jong.  Every  morning  and  every  afternoon  the 
usual  bombardment  broke  out.  It  is  possible  that  the  Tibetans 
had  secured  some  knowledge  of  the  hours  during  which,  from 
one  reason  or  another,  there  was  generally  more  movement  in- 
side the  post  than  at  other  times.  The  free  intercourse  which 
the  Tibetan  visitors  to  Kamba-jong  enjoyed  must,  at  least,  have 
taught  them  something  of  our  habits,  and,  without  doubt,  they 


176  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

made  whatever  use  they  could  of  this  information.  We  early- 
received  news  that  the  Teling  Kusho  was  directing  operations. 
He  had  been  allowed  to  see  a  good  deal  of  us  at  Kamba. 

There  was  one  thing  in  connection  with  this  bombardment 
which  may  throw  some  light  upon  the  ability  of  beleaguered 
garrisons  in  old  days  to  hold  their  own  until  starvation  com- 
pelled them  to  surrender.  The  fact  that  the  report  of  a  gun 
of  an  ancient  pattern  invariably  precedes  the  ball  was,  we  found, 
of  the  most  invaluable  assistance.  There  was  always  time  to  go 
four  yards  at  least  under  cover  of  the  nearest  traverse  before 
the  ball  crashed  into  the  compound.  There  was  one  jingal,  how- 
ever, which  was  christened  "  Chota  Billy,"  which  only  allowed 
three  yards  and  in  extreme  cases  of  over-charge  of  powder  only 
two.  The  naming  of  the  bigger  guns  mounted  on  the  jong  was 
curious.  From  a  large  jingal,  throwing  a  ball  four  inches  in 
circumference,  and  immediately  receiving  the  name  of  Billy, 
two  Chota  Billies,  one  big  Billy,  and  finally  two  Williams  suc- 
cessively took  their  names.  In  all,  there  may  have  been  at  most 
nineteen  guns  mounted  on  the  jong,  of  a  bore  ranging  from 
one  inch  to  three  and  three-quarter  inches.  All  of  them  ranged 
easily  some  two  or  three  hundred  yards  beyond  Chang-lo.  Wil- 
liam, the  heaviest  of  all,  would  sometimes  kick  up  the  dust 
600  yards  in  our  rear,  and  2,400  yards  from  the  jong;  that  is 
to  say,  from  800  to  1,000  yards  beyond  the  post  was  the  utmost 
range  of  any  gun,  except  one  of  the  two  Chota  Billies,  which 
at  a  pinch  could  reach  the  bridge  at  the  end  of  the  wood  2,800 
yards  from  the  gun  positions  of  the  rock. 

But  most  of  their  missiles  fell  short.  The  ground  immedi- 
ately in  front  of  Chang-lo  was  scarred  and  seamed  with  hun- 
dreds and  even  thousands  of  futile  jingal  balls  which  had 
dropped  uselessly  into  the  "  football  field  "  or  the  field  outside. 
Only  eight  or  ten  of  their  best  weapons  threw  projectiles  with 
accuracy  and  certainty.     The  others  heaved  their  muzzles  up 


LIFE  IN  THE  BESIEGED  POST  177 

into  the  sky  and  trusted  that  elevation  would  counteract  econ- 
omy of  powder  and  the  amazing  escape  of  gas  all  round  the 
ill-fitting  bullet.  Bigger  guns  made  an  astonishing  report,  and 
a  second  and  a  half  later  a  lump  of  lead  from  William,  as  big 
as  a  Tangerine  orange,  would  moan  through  the  air,  sometimes 
with  unpleasant  accuracy  whipping  down  into  the  compound, 
or  sometimes  tearing  its  way  through  the  high  trees  over  our 
heads.  Altogether  about  four  men  were  killed  by  these  mis-, 
shapen  projectiles,  which  looked  like  sections  of  a  solid  lead  bar 
with  the  edges  roughly  filed  down.  At  first  lead  alone  was  used, 
but  the  appearance  among  us  of  balls  composed  of  a  heavy  stone 
wrapped  with  lead  suggested  that  the  supply  was  running  short. 
Later  on,  this  surmise  was  justified,  for  a  curious  substitute  for 
lead  was  found  in  the  use  of  pure  copper.  During  the  last  two 
weeks  of  the  siege  lumps  of  this  glittering  red-gold  metal  were 
used  almost  as  constantly  as  those  of  more  humble  material. 

At  one  time  the  Tibetans  adopted  the  principle  of  firing  vol- 
leys. At  a  given  signal  fourteen  or  fifteen  guns  were  fired  in  a 
ragged  feu  de  joie.  There  was  little  additional  danger  to  us 
even  from  the  first  of  these  concerted  pieces.  But  it  is  clear  that 
to  follow  such  a  volley  by  another,  five  minutes  afterward,  was 
sheer  waste  of  ammunition.  Still,  almost  everything  in  the 
post  which  could  be  struck  was  struck.  Tents,  sand-bags,  trav- 
erses, house-walls,  and  trees  were  pounded  alike.  The  trees 
suffered  most;  the  Tibetans  never  seemed  to  be  perfectly  certain 
of  the  direction  of  any  ball  unless  it  betrayed  its  billet  a  hun- 
dred yards  in  front  of  our  defenses.  Naturally,  therefore,  in 
order  at  least  to  insure  that  no  such  obvious  failure  of  aim 
should  be  noted  against  them  by  the  Commandant,  they  preferred 
to  elevate  their  guns  at  an  angle  which  often  only  resulted  in  a 
shower  of  twigs  and  leaves  from  the  lofty  poplars  over  our  heads. 

In  those  trees  the  kites  whistled  and  the  ravens  croaked  all  day. 
Both  species  were  twice  the  size  of  ravens  and  kites  elsewhere. 


178  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

Captain  Walton  would  not  admit  that  this  enormous  difference 
in  size  justified  him  in  setting  them  down  as  a  new  species,  but 
the  practical  results  of  having  these  double-powered  scavengers 
probably  contributed  in  no  small  degree  to  our  comfort.  Outside 
our  defenses  the  unclaimed  pi-dogs  roamed  all  day  and  howled 
nearly  all  the  night.  By  day  they  were  probably  engaged  in 
unearthing  the  long-buried  limbs  of  some  wretched  Tibetan 
killed  during  the  attack  upon  the  post  on  May  5th.  By  night 
they  seemed  to  be  disputing  among  themselves  the  possession  of 
the  disgusting  spoils  they  had  secured  during  the  day.  At  one 
time  Colonel  Brander  arranged  for  the  destruction  of  some  scores 
of  these  parasites.  But  this  was  found  to  be  a  somewhat  dan- 
gerous proceeding  when  carried  out  within  half  a  mile  of  the 
camp.  Two  charges  of  attempted  assassination  were  brought  by 
a  person  of  no  small  importance  in  the  post,  and,  though  these 
cases  were  smilingly  dismissed,  there  was  undoubtedly  a  certain 
element  of  danger  in  permitting  this  indiscriminate  dog-slaughter 
with  rifles  which  were  capable  of  inflicting  serious  harm  at  a 
range  of  4,000  yards.  So  the  dogs  were  permitted  to  grout  in 
the  ground  as  they  liked,  and  as  a  set-off  against  the  intolerable 
nuisance  of  their  howls  by  night,  it  was  remembered  that  they 
might  perhaps  thereby  give  us  useful  warning  of  any  second 
attempt  on  the  part  of  the  Tibetans  to  creep  up  in  the  darkness 
of  a  moonless  night. 

Of  the  dogs  within  the  defenses  "  Tim  "  was  perhaps  the  best 
known,  and  certainly  in  his  own  eyes  the  most  important.  He 
was  an  Irish  terrier  belonging,  so  far  as  any  dog  very  certainly 
belonged  to  any  one  there,  to  Captain  Cullen,  but  the  members  of 
the  Mission,  making  a  contemptible  use  of  the  few  occasional  tit- 
bits which  were  found  in  their  mess-boxes,  successfully  seduced 
him  away  from  his  true  allegiance  for  some  time.  Of  other 
dogs  mention  must  be  made  of  "  Mr.  Jackson,"  a  little  beauty  of 
an  Irish  terrier,  who  we  were  assured  enjoyed  every  minute  of 


LIFE  IN  THE  BESIEGED  POST  179 

his  life  in  spite  of  a  permanently  dislocated  shoulder.  He  un- 
doubtedly limped,  and  he  evfen  more  certainly  enjoyed  life;  but 
we  could  not  help  hoping  that  some  mistake  had  been  made  in 
the  diagnosis  of  his  complaint.  "  Major  Wimberley,"  a  fearsome 
hound,  had  undoubtedly  bull-dog  and  fox-terrier  as  his  chief 
ingredients,  but  it  was  difficult  finally  to  exclude  his  claims  to 
any  other  breed  of  dog,  except  perhaps  a  greyhound  or  Pekinese 
pug.  I  do  not  remember  what  the  real  name  of  this  entirely 
attractive  dog  was,  but  he  used  to  go,  on  the  below-stairs  princi- 
ple, by  his  master's  name,  and  I  am  sorry  that  no  photograph  I 
possess  seems  to  include  his  sober  countenance.  "  The  Lama  " 
was  a  snarling,  bad-tempered  little  beast,  who  produced  a  litter 
of  pups  of  such  appalling  vulgarity  and  ugliness  that,  in  spite 
of  the  real  need  which  we  then  had  of  the  companionship  of 
even  an  animal,  they  were  drowned  by  her  native  owner  without 
a  protest  from  any  one. 

To  many  it  may  seem  unnecessary,  and  perhaps  silly,  to  make 
even  this  passing  reference  to  the  dogs  that  shared  our  captivity. 
But  without  going  more  deeply  into  the  matter,  I  would  only 
say  that  a  critic  should  experience  even  the  slight  investment 
which  it  was  our  lot  to  undergo  before  he  speaks  slightingly  of 
the  right  of  a  dog  to  grateful  recollection. 

For  the  rest,  one  day  succeeded  another  without  change,  and 
except  for  the  uncertainty  of  the  arrival  of  the  daily  post,  with- 
out variety.  There  was  little  actual  danger,  but  we  were  of 
course  restricted  to  the  narrow  limits  of  the  defended  posts  for 
the  greater  part  of  the  time  of  the  investment.  Toward  the  end, 
when  we  had  secured  and  were  holding  Pala  village  and  the 
Gurkha  post,  and  after  Sheppard  had  constructed  his  covered 
ways  between  us  and  them,  more  exercise  was  possible.  But 
for  the  greater  part  of  the  time  we  could  not  stray  beyond  our 
own  perimeter,  and  that  in  itself  became  somewhat  of  a  burden. 
Perhaps  the  want  of  exercise  contributed  in  no  small  degree  to 


i8o  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

the  irritation  caused  by  this  sense  of  captivity,  but  whatever  the 
cause,  an  observant  man  might  at  times  have  noticed  a  shght 
tendency  toward  what  we  believe  was  called,  in  Ladysmith, 
"  siege  temper."  In  fact,  with  the  exception — and  in  justice  I 
must  say  the  absolute  exception — of  Colonel  Younghusband  him- 
self and  Captain  Sheppard,  there  was  hardly  any  one  in  the  little 
force  who  was  entirely  free  from  a  touch  of  this  pardonable 
frailty. 

It  is  a  pity  that  there  were  not  more  men  with  the  force  who 
were  able  to  sketch.  The  most  rudimentary  skill  in  color  would 
have  found  scope  indeed  at  Gyantse.  As  it  was,  there  was  hardly 
a  paint-box  in  the  force,  if  we  except  the  little  old-fashioned 
cakes  of  color  which  officially  provide  for  the  sappers  the  reds 
and  grays  and  ochers  needed  for  their  plans.  However,  even 
had  there  been  more  skill  and  better  equipment,  there  would  have 
been  little  time  for  the  mere  work  of  the  artist.  It  is  perhaps 
worth  while  to  try  to  catch  in  words  a  little  of  what  the  finest 
photograph  must  fail  utterly  to  record. 

The  color  of  Tibet  has  no  parallel  in  the  world.  Nowhere, 
neither  in  Egypt,  nor  in  South  Africa,  nor  even  in  places  of  such 
local  reputation  as  Sydney,  or  Calcutta,  or  Athens,  is  there  such 
a  constancy  of  beauty,  night  and  morning  alike,  as  there  is  in 
this  fertile  plain  inset  in  the  mountain  backbone  of  the  world. 
Here  there  is  a  range  and  a  quality  in  both  light  and  color  which 
cannot  be  rendered  by  the  best  of  colored  plates,  but  which  must 
always  be  remembered  if  the  dry  bones  of  figure  and  fact  are  to 
be  properly  conceived. 

During  the  mid-hours  of  a  summer  day,  Tibet  is  perhaps  not 
unlike  the  rest  of  the  dry  tropical  zone.  Here,  as  elsewhere,  the 
fierce  Oriental  sun  scares  away  the  softer  tints,  and  the  shrinking 
and  stretching  shadows  of  the  white  hours  are  too  scanty  to 
relieve  the  mirage  and  the  monotony.  All  about  Chang-lo  the 
contemptuous  shoulders  of  the  shadeless  mountains  stand  blank 


LIFE  IN  THE  BESIEGED  POST  i8i 

and  unwelcoming.  All  along  the  plain  as  far  as  the  eye  can  see 
the  stretches  of  iris  or  barley  and  the  plantations  of  willow-thorn 
are  dulled  into  eucalyptus  gray  by  the  dust;  the  trees  lift  them- 
selves dispirited,  and  the  faint  droop  of  every  blade  and  every 
leaf  tires  the  eye  with  unconscious  sympathy.  Far  off  along  the 
Shigatse  road  a  pack-mule  shuffles  along,  making  in  sheer  weari- 
ness as  much  dust  as  the  careless  hoofs  of  a  bullock,  that  dustiest 
of  beasts.  One  does  not  look  at  the  houses.  The  sun  beats  off 
their  coarse  and  strong  grained  whitewash,  and  one  can  hardly 
believe  that  they  are  the  same  dainty  buildings  of  pearl-gray  or 
rose-pink  that  one  watched  as  they  faded  out  of  sight  with  the 
sunset  yesterday  evening.  Everything  shivers  behind  the  crawl- 
ing skeins  of  mirage.  There  is  no  strength,  there  are  no  out- 
lines to  anything  in  the  plain,  and  even  the  hard  thorn  trees  in 
the  plantation  are  flaccid.  As  one  passes  underneath  them  a  kite 
or  two  dives  downward  from  the  branches.  He  will  disturb 
little  dust  as  he  moves,  for  your  kite  mistrusts  a  new  perch,  and 
the  bough  he  sits  on  must  be  leafless  both  for  the  traverse  of  his 
outlook,  and  for  the  clear  oarage  of  his  wide  wings.  Also,  you 
may  be  sure  he  has  been  to  and  fro  fifty  times  to-day.  See  him 
settle  a  hundred  yards  away  near  that  ugly  significant  heap  of 
dirty  maroon  cloth,  and  mark  the  dust  thrown  forward  by  the 
thrashing  brake-stroke  of  his  great  wings.  It  hangs  in  a  petty 
cloud  still  when  we  have  come  up  to  him  and  driven  him  away 
in  indignation  for  a  little  space. 

Under  foot  the  dwarf  clematis  shuts  in  from  the  midday  heat 
its  black  snake-head  flowers,  and  the  young  shoots  of  the  jasmine 
turn  the  backs  of  their  tender  leaflets  to  the  sun,  drooping  a  little 
as  they  do  so.  Veronica  is  there  in  stunted  little  bushes ;  vetches, 
rest-harrows,  and  dwarf  indigo-like  plants  swarm  along  the  sides 
of  the  long  dry  water  channels;  and  here  and  there,  where  the 
ditch  runs  steep,  you  may  find,  along  toward  the  southern  face, 
what  looks  for  all  the  world  like  a  thickly  strewn  bank  of  violets. 


i82  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

Violets  of  course  they  are  not,  but  the  illusion  is  perfect,  in  color, 
growth,  and  size  alike.  Near  them  tall  fresh-looking  docks  have 
found  a  wet  stratum  deep  below  the  dusty  irrigation  cut,  and 
away  in  a  sopping  water  meadow  by  the  river  stunted  Himalayan 
primulas  make  a  cloudy  carpet  of  pink. 

Late  in  the  afternoon  the  change  begins.  Details  of  flowers 
and  fields  and  trees  vanish — and  surely  one  is  content  to  lose 
them  in  the  scene  that  follows.  First,  the  light  pall  of  pure  blue 
which  has  all  day  gauzed  over  the  end  of  the  valley  toward 
Dongtse  deepens  into  ultramarine  ash.  Then,  in  a  few  minutes 
as  it  seems,  the  fleeces  of  white  and  silver  in  the  west  have  gath- 
ered weight,  and  a  mottled  company  of  argent  and  silver-gray 
and  cyanine  heaps  itself  across  the  track  of  the  setting  sun.  The 
sky  deepens  from  blue  to  amber  without  a  transient  tint  of  green, 
and  the  red  camp-fires  whiten  as  the  daylight  fades.  But  the 
true  sunset  is  not  yet.  After  many  minutes  comes  the  sight 
which  is  perhaps  Tibet's  most  exquisite  and  peculiar  gift:  the 
double  glory  of  the  east  and  west  alike,  and  the  rainbow  confu- 
sion among  the  wide  waste  of  white  mountain  ranges. 

For  ten  minutes  the  sun  will  fight  a  path  clear  of  his  clouds 
and  a  luminous  ray  sweeps  down  the  valley,  lighting  up  the  un- 
suspected ridges  and  blackening  the  lurking  hollows  of  the  hills. 
This  is  no  common  light.  The  Tibetans  themselves  have  given 
it  a  name  of  its  own,  and  indeed  the  gorse-yellow  blaze  which 
paints  its  shadows  myrtle-green  underneath  the  deepened  indigo 
of  the  sky  defies  description  and  deserves  a  commemorative 
phrase  for  itself  alone.  But  the  strange  thing  is  still  to  come. 
A  quick  five-fingered  aurora  of  rosy  light  arches  over  the  sky, 
leaping  from  east  to  west  as  one  gazes  overhead.  The  fingers 
converge  again  in  the  east,  where  a  growing  splendor  shapes  it- 
self to  welcome  them  on  the  horizon's  edge.^ 

^  Travelers  have  more  than  once  referred  to  this  curious  phenomenon, 
and  the  Tibetans  have  a  word,  "Ting-pa,"  for  this  rosy  and  cloudless  beam 
also. 


LIFE  IN  THE  BESIEGED  POST  183 

Then  comes  the  dimax  of  the  transformation  scene.  While 
the  carmine  is  still  over-arching  the  sky,  on  either  side  the  horizon 
deepens  to  a  still  darker  shade,  and  the  distant  hills  stand  out 
against  it  with  uncanny  sharpness,  iridescent  for  all  the  world 
like  a  jagged  and  translucent  scale  of  mother-of-pearl  lighted 
from  behind.  Above  them  the  ravines  and  the  ridges  are  alike 
lost,  and  in  their  place  mantles  a  pearly  underplay  of  rose-petal 
pink  and  eau-de-nil  green,  almost  moving  as  one  watches.  Then 
the  slowly  developed  tints  tire  and  grow  dull ;  the  quick  evening 
gloom  comes  out  from  the  plain,  and  a  sharp  little  wind  from 
the  southeast  is  the  herald  of  the  stars. 

These  sunsets  are  as  unlike  the  "  cinnamon,  amber,  and  dun  " 
of  South  Africa  as  the  high  crimson,  gold-flecked  curtains  of 
Egypt,  or  the  long  contrasting  belts  of  the  western  sky  in  mid- 
ocean.  So  peculiar  are  they  to  this  country  that  they  have  as 
much  right  to  rank  as  one  of  its  characteristic  features  as  Lamaic 
superstition,  or  the  "  bos  grunniens  "  itself ;  and  to  leave  them 
unmentioned,  however  imperfect  and  crude  the  suggestion  may 
be,  would  be  to  cover  up  the  finest  page  of  the  book  which  is 
only  now  after  many  centuries  opened  to  the  world.  That  alone 
is  my  excuse  for  attempting  what  every  man  in  this  expedition 
knows  in  his  heart  to  be  impossible. 


CHAPTER   XI 
religion:   manners  and  customs:   art 

IN  Tibet  the  line  of  division  between  the  layman  and  the  priest 
is  sharply  drawn  indeed.  The  domestic  life  of  the  country, 
its  government,  its  cultivation  and  even,  in  some  degree,  its  com- 
merce, all  are  colored  to  a  greater  or  less  extent  by  the  strange 
religion  centered  in  the  divine  person  of  the  Grand  Lama  of 
Lhasa;  and  the  line  of  honorable  demarcation,  so  far  as  persons 
are  concerned,  permits  of  no  mistake.  If  a  man  is  a  layman  he 
belongs  to  an  inferior  caste;  however  high  his  rank  he  does  but 
the  more  point  the  contrasts  which  exist  between  the  rulers  and 
the  ruled.  The  Lamaic  hierarchy  have  succeeded  in  creating  a 
religious  caste  unparalleled  in  the  world. 

What  that  religion  is,  demands  therefore  more  than  a  passing 
notice.  There  is,  or  rather  there  has  hitherto  been,  a  belief  that 
the  Buddhism  of  Tibet  is  a  lawful  descendant  of  the  Buddhism 
which  the  Master  preached  beneath  the  pipuls  of  Bengal.  Ex- 
travagant it  was  known  to  be;  it  was  obvious  that  it  had  become 
incrusted  in  ritual,  and  both  adorned  and  humbled  by  traditions ; 
it  was  clear  also  that  for  the  common  folk  the  letter  had  almost 
killed  the  spirit,  and  the  use  by  the  priests  of  their  sacred  posi- 
tion to  secure  entire  tyranny  over  the  laymen  had  not  escaped 
notice.  But  after  all,  the  same  things,  each  and  all  of  them  in 
some  form  or  another,  are  to-day  true  of  Christianity  also.  And 
yet  the  flame  of  Christianity,  however  strange  or  tawdry  the 
shrine,  burns  perhaps  as  steadily  to-day  as  ever  it  did.     This 

ever-ready  parallel— one  which  the  student  carries  with  him 

184 


RELIGION:  MANNERS  AND  CUSTOMS:  ART    185 

almost  unconsciously  to  the  consideration  of  Buddhism — has  ob- 
scured the  truth. 

But  the  Buddhism  of  Tibet  has  no  longer  the  faintest  resem- 
blance to  the  plain  austere  creed  which  Gautama  preached.  It 
is  doubtful  if  the  great  Founder  of  Buddhism  would  recognize  in 
its  forms  or  formulae  any  trace  of  the  purity  and  sobriety  of  his 
own  high  creed.  It  is  hard  to  say  whether  he  would  be  more 
offended  by  the  golden  cooking-pots  of  the  Potala  palace  or  by 
the  awful  self-mortification  of  the  immured  monks  of  Nyen-de- 
kyi-buk  and  other  extreme  hermitages.  Except  in  so  far  as  that 
Buddha's  face  of  quietism  personified  still  gazes  down  from  wall 
and  altar  upon  the  rites  of  Lamaism,  that  religion  can  claim  little 
connection  with  the  faith  upon  which  their  reputation  and  power 
are  wholly  based.  Under  a  thin  mask  of  names  and  personifica- 
tions suggested  by  the  records  of  the  Master,  or  by  the  reforms 
effected  by  Asanga,  a  system  of  devil-worship  pure  and  simple 
reigns  in  Tibet;  the  monkish  communities  spare  no  effort  to 
establish  their  predominance  more  firmly  every  year  by  fostering 
the  slavish  terror  which  is  the  whole  attitude  toward  religion  of 
the  ignorant  classes  of  the  land.  The  wretched  tiller  of  the  soil 
is  always  the  ultimate  supporter  of  a  religious  tyranny,  because 
in  a  manufacturing  community  the  faculties,  and  a  sense  of  inde- 
pendence, are  necessarily  developed  too  strongly  for  its  tolera- 
tion; but  of  all  such  superstitious  servitudes  the  unhappy 
"  miser  "  of  Tibet  supplies  us  to-day  with  the  classical  example. 
Not  even  the  darkest  days  of  the  Papal  States,  nor  the  most  big- 
oted years  of  Puritan  rule  in  New  England,  not  the  intolerance 
of  Genevan  Calvinism,  not  Islam  itself  can  afford  an  example  of 
such  utter  domination  by  an  abuse  of  the  influence  upon  men  of 
their  religious  terrors.  The  line  between  religion  and  supersti- 
tion may  be  a  fine  one  and  hard  to  place.  But  wherever  it  may 
be  drawn  the  Buddhist  of  Tibet  has  long  crossed  it. 

From  a  political  point  of  view,  the  importance  of  the  religion 


i86  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

of  any  country  lies  less  in  its  moral  or  ethical  excellence  than  in 
the  extent  to  which  it  exerts  a  real  influence  upon  the  lives  of  its 
professing  members  and  in  the  use  or  misuse  of  that  influence 
in  the  government  of  the  country.  Apart,  therefore,  from  the  ac- 
tual doctrine  or  ritual  of  this  so-called  Buddhism,  the  degree  to' 
which  it  enters  into  the  public  and  private  life  of  the  Tibetans  is 
worth  studying.  It  may  be  said  at  once  that,  so  far  at  least  as  the 
lower  classes  are  concerned,  it  is  paramount:  no  other  influence 
is  of  the  slightest  importance.  But  whether  that  influence  de- 
serves to  be  called  religious  is  another  matter.  The  distinction 
between  northern  and  southern  Buddhism  is  one  which  is  far 
more  than  geographical.  The  common  people  of  Burma  and 
Siam  still  apply  the  standards  of  Gaya  to  their  daily  life,  but 
northern  Buddhism  has  long  abandoned,  except  in  name,  the 
Indian  faith.  In  their  vain  repetitions  and  mechanical  aids  to 
self-salvation,  in  their  gaudy  and  frequently  obscene  ritual,  in 
their  hells  full  of  demon  spirits  and  fearsome  semi-gods,  Bud- 
dha's simple  creed  has  long  been  dead.  The  doctrine  of  reincar- 
nation, rather  implied  than  taught  by  him,  is  still  politically  use- 
ful, and  therefore  remains  as  almost  the  sole  link  which  still 
connects  the  two  Churches.  Brushing  aside  the  films  of  ritual 
and  the  untruthful  suggestions  of  tradition,  one  finds  in  Lama- 
ism  little  but  sheer  animistic  devil-worship. 

To  the  Tibetans,  every  place  is  peopled  with  the  active  agents 
of  a  supernatural  malice.  Always  in  this  country — at  the  sum- 
mit of  a  pass,  at  the  entrance  of  a  village,  at  a  cleft  in  the  rock- 
side,  at  the  crossing  of  a  stream  by  bridge  or  ford — one  is  ac- 
customed to  find  the  flicker  of  a  rain-washed  string  of  flags,  a 
fluttering  prayer-pole,  or  a  gaily  decked  brush  of  ten-foot  willow 
sprigs;  evil  spirits  must  be  exorcised  at  every  turn  in  the  road. 
Wells,  lakes  and  running  streams  also  are  full  of  demons  who 
visit  with  floods  and  hailstorms  the  slightest  infraction  of  the 
lamas'  rules.    Tibet  is  peopled  with  as  many  bogies  as  the  most 


RELIGION:  MANNERS  AND  CUSTOMS:  ART    187 

terrified  child  in  England  can  conjure  up  in  the  darkness  of  its 
bed-room.  A  natural  cave,  a  chink  beneath  a  boulder,  a  farm- 
stead, the  row  of  willows  beside  an  irrigation  channel,  or  the  low 
mill  house  at  the  end  of  them,  a  doorway  or  a  chorten — every 
habitation  of  man  teems  with  these  unseen  terrors.  The  spilling 
of  the  milk  upon  the  hearth-stone  needs  its  special  expiation,  and 
the  birth  and  death  of  men  are  naturally  perhaps  made  the  oppor- 
tunity of  securing  oblations  from  the  people  of  the  land.  For 
there  is  but  one  way  of  exorcising  these  powers  of  ill.  Prayers 
are  not  of  themselves  the  defenses  of  the  poor  in  Tibet ;  they  can 
only  be  lively  and  effectual  when  sanctioned  by  the  priest;  and 
the  fluttering  prayer-flag,  the  turning-wheel,  or  the  muttered 
ejaculation  is  valid  only  after  due  consultation  at  the  local  gompa. 
And  not  a  pole  is  set  up,  not  a  string  of  flags  pulled  taut,  not  a 
water-wheel  or  a  wind-wheel  set  in  motion  without  the  payment 
of  the  customary  fee.  The  priestly  tax  is  not  paid  in  money 
alone.  The  labors  of  the  people's  hands  are  g.t  the  disposal  of 
the  ruling  caste.  The  corvee  is  known  in  Tibet  as  it  was  known 
in  ancient  Egypt,  and  no  feudal  seigniory  of  the  Dark  Ages  in 
Europe  ever  exacted  its  full  rights  as  mercilessly  as  this  narrow 
sect  of  self-indulgent  priests. 

Invariably  there  will  be  found  outside  a  house  four  things. 
The  first  is  the  prayer-pole  or  the  horizontal  sag  of  a  line  of 
moving  squares  of  gauze ;  the  second  is  a  broken  teapot  of  earth- 
enware from  which  rises  the  cheap  incense  of  burnt  juniper  twigs 
—a  smell  which  demons  cannot  abide ;  the  third,  a  nest  of  worsted 
rigging,  shaped  like  a  cobweb  and  set  about  with  colored  linen 
tags,  catkins,  leaves,  sprigs  and  little  blobs  of  willow  often  crown- 
ing the  skull  of  a  dog  or  sheep.  The  eyes  are  replaced  by  hid- 
eous projecting  balls  of  glass  and  a  painted  crown-vallary  rings 
it  round.  Hither  the  spirits  of  disease  within  the  house  are  help- 
lessly attracted,  and  smallpox,  the  scourge  of  Tibet,  may  never 
enter  there.     Last  of  all  is  the  white  and  blue  swastika  or  fylfot. 


i88  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

surmounted  by  a  rudely  drawn  symbol  of  the  sun  and  moon. 
This  sign  marks  every  main  doorway  in  the  country.^ 

Other  more  public  charms  against  evil  are  the  chortens  or 
cairns  which  piety  or  terror  has  set  up  at  small  intervals  along 
the  road  to  be  a  continual  nuisance  to  the  impious  traveler.  Like 
the  "  islands  "  in  Piccadilly  or  the  Strand,  they  may  only  be 
passed  to  the  left,  and  their  position  on  the  edge  of  a  cliff  often 
renders  this  in  one  direction  a  hazardous  proceeding.  There  are, 
of  course,  no  carts  or  wheeled  vehicles  of  any  kind  in  Tibet,  or 
this  superstition  would  long  ago  have  become  extinguished 
through  sheer  necessity.  As  it  is,  the  chorten  remains  till  the 
cliff  itself  falls,  but  to  the  last  there  is  generally  foothold  on 
which  to  climb  round  the  outside  of  a  cairn.  It  may  be  noted  as 
a  psychological  curiosity  that,  after  living  in  the  country  for  a 
few  months,  the  least  thoughtful  man  in  the  force  usually  adopted 
this  superstition  as  he  walked  along,  though,  of  course,  when  rid- 
ing it  is  not  unnatural  for  Englishmen. 

Here  and  there  one  finds  long  walls,  composed  for  the  most 
part  of  inscribed  stones;  these  mendangs  or  manis  represent  the 
accretions  of  many  years,  and  some  in  Tibet  are  reported  to  be 
half  a  mile  in  length.  They  do  not,  however,  assume  the  impor- 
tance in  the  province  of  U  that  they  possess  farther  to  the  west. 
To  other  pious  memorials  also  the  passer-by  adds  his  contribution 
of  a  stone.     A  few  white  pebbles  of  quartzite  carefully  selected 

*  A  good  deal  of  inaccurate  statement  has  been  made  about  the  swastika. 
To  nothing  did  I  pay  more  attention  than  in  noting  the  color  and  shape  of  re- 
ligious emblems  as  we  penetrated  deeper  and  deeper  into  the  country.  It  is 
said  that  the  swastika  which  revolves  to  the  right  is  consecrated  to  the  use 
of  orthodox  Buddhists  of  whatever  school,  and  that  the  swastika  which  kicks 
in  the  other  direction,  that  is  to  say  which  revolves  to  the  left,  is  used  only  by 
the  Beun-pa,  the  aboriginal  devil-worshipers,  whose  faith  was  ousted  by  the 
adoption  of  Buddhism.  This  is  not  borne  out  by  the  relative  frequency  of 
position  of  the  two  swastikas  in  Tibet.  The  left-handed  swastika  {i.e.,  that 
which  turns  to  the  dexter)  is,  if  anything,  the  commoner  of  the  two,  and  the 
commonest  use  of  this  symbol  is  in  the  opposition  of  the  two  kinds  :  thus  the 
two  halves  of  a  doorway,  or  the  pattern  of  a  rug,  will  generally  offer  an  ex- 
ample of  the  two  kinds  confronted. 


RELIGION:  MANNERS  AND  CUSTOMS:  ART    189 

from  the  neighboring  stone-strewn  field  will  acquire  for  him  no 
small  merit  if  heaped  together  in  a  little  pyramid,  or  piled  with 
careful  balance  one  on  the  top  of  another.  Prayer-wheels  offer 
their  fluted  axles  to  the  hand  of  the  traveler  in  long  rows,  hung 
up  conveniently  beside  the  wall  of  a  house.  The  poorest  may 
thus  accumulate  merit.  I  have  before  referred  to  the  use  of 
prayer-wheels,  but  it  may  be  added  here  that  besides  the  hand- 
turned  wheels  and  those  moved  by  water,  the  principle  of  the 
anemometer  has  long  been  known  for  the  purposes  of  Lamaic 
devotion,  and  the  essential  principle  of  the  turbine  is  found  in 
little  gauze-sided  stoves  which  drive  a  tiny  rotating  tun  by  hot 
air  forced  through  a  spiral. 

The  walls  of  the  merest  hovels  are  plastered  with  yellow  paper 
charms;  and  round  their  necks  the  people  carry  amulet  boxes, 
without  which  no  Tibetan  ventures  far.  These  are  packed  with 
a  cheap  little  image  of  clay,  a  few  grains  of  sanctified  wheat,  two 
or  three  written  charms  and  a  torn  scrap  of  a  sacred  katag,  origi- 
nally thrown  over  the  shoulders  or  head  of  some  famous  image. 
Pills,  too,  may  be  found  in  the  box,  red  pills  certified  to  contain 
some  speck  of  the  ashes  of  the  Guru  Rinpoche.  For  the  special 
purposes  of  this  year,  one  often  found  a  small,  sharply  triangular 
piece  of  flint.  This  was  guaranteed  to  be  a  perfect  protection 
against  the  bullets  of  the  foreigner.  For  all  these  things  the 
lamas  have  to  be  paid,  and  we  soon  realized  that  their  control 
over  the  souls  of  their  flock  was  used  solely  to  secure  an  unlimited 
tyranny  over  their  worldly  possessions.  The  riches  of  Tibet  are, 
almost  without  exception,  enjoyed  by  the  priestly  class. 

It  may  be  not  without  interest  to  draw  attention  to  a  curious 
and  special  use  of  the  one  doctrine  which  connects  Lamaism  still 
with  Gautama  by  a  fundamental  dogma.  It  is  a  cynical  misuse 
of  the  theory  of  reincarnation,  the  employment  of  it  as  a  political 
lever.  Augurs  do  not  look  at  augurs  when  they  meet,  but  when 
they  quarrel  they  sometimes  afford  the  onlooker  some  amusement. 


I90  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

The  present  Dalai  Lama  (at  the  time  of  writing  it  does  not  seem 
at  all  clear  that  we  have  succeeded  in  weakening  his  hold  upon 
place  and  power)  made  for  political  reasons  a  sudden  and  con- 
venient discovery,  that  Tsong-kapa,  the  great  reformer  of  Lama- 
ism,  was  reincarnated  in  the  person  of  the  Tzar  of  Russia.  This 
announcement  was,  of  course,  intended  to  smooth  the  way  to  that 
closer  union  between  the  two  states  which  Dorjieff  had  so  success- 
fully managed  to  begin.  As  a  statement  in  itself  by  the  reincarna- 
tion of  Avalokiteswara,  it  was  difficult  to  deny  or  even  to  discuss 
the  truth  of  the  proposition.  But  the  indignant  Tsong-du  were 
equal  to  the  occasion.  They  countered  gracefully.  In  effect  they 
said,  "  How  interesting  and  how  lucky  for  the  Tzar !  "  But  the 
guardian  of  this  country,  the  Chinese  Emperor,  is  also  a  reincar- 
nation. He,  as  they  reminded  the  forgetful  Tubdan,  is,  poor 
man,  the  existing  representation  of  the  god  of  learning,  Jampa- 
lang,  and  therefore  is  not  lightly  to  be  ousted  from  his  predomi- 
nance in  Tibet. 

Here  matters  remain,  though  the  Grand  Lama  had  no  reason 
to  regret  the  extension  of  this  graceful  courtesy  to  the  Tzar. 
It  is  a  fact  beyond  dispute,  deny  it  as  the  Russian  individual  may, 
that  the  "  Little  Father,"  in  virtue  of  his  position  as  head  of  the 
Christian  Church  in  Russia,  sent  with  all  ceremony  a  complete 
set  of  the  vestments  of  a  Bishop  of  the  Greek  Church  to  the  Dalai 
Lama.  This  is  perhaps  the  most  extraordinary  thing  of  all  the 
strange  incidents  in  connection  with  this  odd  expedition.  A  Rus- 
sian would  probably  prefer  to  deny  than  to  explain  the  fact.  It 
does  not  seem  probable  that  it  was  caused  by  any  similar  lapse 
from  common  sense  as  that  which  the  early  Christians  displayed 
when  they  raised  Buddha  to  a  place  among  the  saints  of  the 
Church.  (This  is  a  fairly  well-known  fact,  and,  if  evidence  were 
needed,  the  life  of  St.  Joasaph,  as  told  in  the  "  Golden  Legend," 
would  convince  the  most  skeptical.)  Still,  it  is  a  long  step  from 
including  the  personality  of  a  very  holy  pagan  by  inadvertence 


RELIGION:  MANNERS  AND  CUSTOMS:  ART    191 

among  the  pillars  of  the  Early  Church  to  the  symbolic  acceptance 
as  a  Christian,  and  subsequent  appointment  as  an  apostolically 
descended  bishop,  of  the  most  typical  character  in  the  heathen 
world  to-day. 

Among  these  freaks  of  politico-religious  strategy,  one  of  the 
most  amazing  was  the  reincarnate  representative  which,  by  uni- 
versal consent,  was  found  for  the  soul  and  spirit  of  one  of  the 
terrible  guardian  deities  of  the  land  and  of  the  faith.  Palden- 
Ihamo  is  a  dark-blue  lady  with  three  eyes  who  sits  upon  a  chest- 
nut mule  drinking  blood  from  a  skull  and  trampling  under  foot 
the  torn  and  mutilated  bodies  of  men  and  women.  Her  crown  is 
composed  of  skulls,  her  eye  teeth  are  four  inches  long,  and  the 
bridle,  girths,  and  crupper  are  living  snakes  kept  in  position  by 
the  dripping  skin  of  a  recently  flayed  man.  Of  this  atrocity  the 
Tibetans  found  a  reincarnation  in  Queen  Victoria.  This  they  did 
without  the  slightest  wish  or  intention  in  the  world  to  do  any- 
thing but  convey  the  highest  possible  personal  compliment.  The 
"  horrible  "  aspect  of  these  guardian  deities  does  but  increase  their 
virtue  and  their  efficacy.  They  represent  the  old  heathen  tyrants 
of  the  land  who  were  brought  into  subjection  by  Buddha,  and 
left  with  all  their  horrible  attributes  to  scare  away  every  evil,  es- 
pecially the  intruder  and  the  enemy.  This  last  reincarnation  was 
so  well  known,  that  a  lama  will  think  an  Englishman  ignorant  if 
he  does  not  know  it;  and  he  will  explain  that,  after  all,  if  proof 
were  needed  of  the  truth  of  what  they  believe,  it  is  to  be  found  in 
the  fact  that  Tibet,  during  Queen  Victoria's  long  reign,  was 
saved  from  invasion,  saved  even  from  that  intercourse  which  they 
hate  nearly  as  much,  and  that  after  her  death  and  her  return  to  be 
reincarnated  again  in  a  little  child  in  Tibet,  the  English  troops 
immediately  bore  down  upon  their  sacred  capital. 

As  I  have  said,  no  priestly  caste  in  the  history  of  religion  has 
ever  fostered  and  preyed  upon  the  terror  and  ignorance  of  its 
flock  with  the  systematic  brigandage  of  the  lamas.     It  may  be 


192  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

that,  hidden  away  in  some  quiet  lamasery,  far  from  the  main 
routes,  Kim's  lama  may  still  be  found.  Once  or  twice  in  the  quiet 
unworldly  abbots  of  such  monasteries  as  those  of  Dongtse  or 
Ta-ka-re,  one  saw  an  attractive  and  almost  impressive  type  of 
man ;  but  the  heads  of  the  hierarchy  are  very  different  men,  and 
by  them  the  country  is  ruled  with  a  rod  of  iron.  The  vast  aggre- 
gation of  symbols  and  ceremonies  which  have  strangled  the  life 
out  of  the  simple  and  beautiful  faith  of  Buddha  is  but  a  barrier 
which  the  more  effectually  separates  the  priestly  caste  from  its 
lay  serfs.  To  educate  the  latter  in  any  way  would  be  to  strike 
at  the  root  of  Lamaic  supremacy,  and,  therefore,  the  whole  land 
is  sunk  in  an  ignorance  to  which  it  would  be  difficult  to  find  a  par- 
allel. To  these  unlettered  hinds  the  awful  figures  which  scowl 
from  the  gompa  wall,  blood  bespattered,  with  dripping  tusks  and 
bloated  and  beastlike  bodies,  are  as  veritable  as  were  ever  the  pic- 
tures of  a  medieval  hell  to  the  frightened  catechumen.  To  them 
the  muttering  or  the  fluttering  of  the  strange  charm,  om  mani 
padme  hum,  is  the  easiest,  and  for  them  the  only,  pathway  to  a 
vague  well-being  after  death,  provided  spiritual  pastors  shall  have 
sanctioned  and  hedged  about  with  charms  their  earthly  life. 

These  simple  people  are  a  pleasant  race.  You  will  always  meet 
in  the  poorest  hut  with  unfailing  courtesy;  not  only  is  it  an  un- 
questioned duty,  but  you  would  believe  it  also  to  be  a  pleasure, 
for  them  instantly  to  bring  forth  an  offering  of  their  best.  It  may 
be  small  enough — a  little  bowl  of  barley,  three  or  four  eggs  in 
the  hand— but  there  it  will  always  be.  Eggs  may  cost  but  two- 
pence a  dozen  in  the  nearest  village,  but  it  is  only  fair  to  remem- 
ber that  pennies  are  scarce  among  these  poor  people.  They  live  a 
toilsome  and  hard  life  uncomplainingly,  without  the  wits  to  re- 
alize that  any  other  could  be  their  lot.  The  ordinary  villager 
sleeps  and  eats  on  the  floor  of  the  hut.  Furniture  he  has,  of 
course,  none ;  two  or  three  brass  or  copper  bowls,  a  big  unglazed 
red  porcelain  teapot^  a  few  lengths  of  thick  red  or  gray  cloth  are 


RELIGION:  MANNERS  AND  CUSTOMS:  ART    193 

(besides  the  implements  of  his  trade)  all  you  will  ever  find  in  a 
Tibetan  house. 

Perhaps  the  best  known  thing  about  Tibet  is  the  habit  prevalent 
throughout  the  country  for  a  woman  to  marry  all  her  husband's 
brothers  as  well  as  himself.  This  is  a  curious  custom  and  I  do  not 
think  that  any  sufficient  reason  has  ever  been  given  for  it;  natu- 
rally it  fills  the  nunneries,  and  the  population  of  the  country, 
whether  due  to  this  fact  alone  or  not,  is  steadily  decreasing.  The 
plan,  however,  seems  to  work  well  enough  so  far  as  the  family  is 
concerned.  Perhaps  they  expect  very  little,  but  the  fact  remains 
that  these  many-husbanded  ladies  seem  able  to  keep  a  comfortable 
enough  home  for  their  changing  housemates.  That,  I  think,  may 
be  the  reason  why  friction  rarely  or  never  occurs.  If  there  are 
three  sons  in  a  family  the  third  will  become  a  lama,  the  eldest  will 
remain  chiefly  at  home,  the  second  son  will  tend  the  flocks  on 
the  grazing  grounds  or  carry  the  wool  to  the  nearest  market ;  the 
two  brothers,  therefore,  do  not  very  often  meet,  and  the  good 
lady  apparently  chooses  which  of  the  two  she  would  rather  look 
after  for  the  moment.  The  result  is  apparent  in  one  way;  the 
women  have  developed  a  distinctly  stronger  character  than  the 
men.  No  layman  or  laywoman,  of  course,  has  any  opportunity 
of  public  influence— that  is  entirely  reserved  for  the  lamas;  but 
in  the  realm  of  commerce  the  women  are  usually  supreme.  Both 
at  Gyantse  and  at  Lhasa  my  experience  was  the  same.  It  was 
the  woman  who  managed  the  family  trading,  and  if  the  man  were 
there  at  all  it  was  only  to  help  in  carrying  the  goods  backward 
and  forward  between  the  bazaar  and  the  town.  I  have  at  times 
known  a  woman  refer  to  her  husband  before  she  would  sell  me 
any  unusually  good  turquoise-studded  charm  box  or  other  jewel, 
but  as  a  rule  they  seemed  to  dispose  of  the  family  possessions 
without  consulting  any  one.  Any  one  who  knows  India  will  ap- 
preciate from  this  fact  alone  the  vast  difference  that  the  barrier  of 
the  Himalayas  causes.    Some  of  these  women  are  not  bad-look- 


194  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

ing.  I  say  this  with  some  doubt,  because  beneath  the  dirt  of 
many  years  it  is  impossible  to  do  more  than  guess  at  their  com- 
plexions.   Their  children  are  charming  little  things. 

Into  the  home  life  of  the  Tibetans  our  almost  complete  igno- 
rance of  the  language,  coupled  with  the  state  of  armed  neutrality, 
if  not  actual  war,  which  so  often  characterized  their  attitude  to- 
ward us,  made  it  difficult  for  us  to  enter.  So  far  as  I  could — 
far  more  than  any  one  else  except  O'Connor,  with  whom  I  gen- 
erally paid  such  visits,  and  whose  fluency  in  Tibetan  was  as  in- 
valuable to  both  of  us  as  it  was  exasperating  and  coveted  by  me 
— I  made  a  point  of  seeing  the  Tibetans,  both  lay  and  clerical, 
in  their  homes. 

On  one  occasion  we  went  out  for  luncheon  to  a  somewhat  in- 
teresting family.  The  man  was  the  eldest  son  of  the  Maharajah  of 
Sikkim.  At  a  period  of  stress  in  the  relations  between  the  Indian 
Government  and  the  royal  family  of  Sikkim,  this  young  man  had 
been  given  the  choice  between  returning  to  the  territory  of  Sik- 
kim, or  of  forfeiting  his  succession.  He  elected  to  remain  in 
Tibet,  and  from  that  day  he  has  never  seen  his  relatives.  The 
present  Crown  Prince  of  Sikkim — one  of  the  best  known  to  Euro- 
peans of  all  the  young  princes  of  India — assumed  the  position, 
and,  thanks  entirely  to  the  prudence  and  sympathy  of  Mr.  Claude 
White,  promises  to  become  a  useful  and  loyal  Rajah.  To  his 
brother's  house  O'Connor  and  I  went.  Taring,  his  residence,  is 
situated  seven  or  eight  miles  from  Gyantse  along  the  road  to 
Lhasa.  It  is  a  house  of  no  great  pretensions,  prettily  hidden 
among  trees.  The  young  couple  entertained  us  hospitably ;  Prince 
Namgyel  was  simply  but  richly  dressed,  his  wife  was  wearing  a 
fine  kincob  and  an  exquisite  head-dress  in  which  the  high  aureole 
commonly  in  use  was  barely  recognizable  under  the  strings  of 
pearls  which  webbed  the  whole  thing.  Servants  there  were  in 
half  dozens,  and  the  meal  we  had  was  full  of  interest.  It  began 
with  tea. 


RELIGION:  MANNERS  AND  CUSTOMS:  ART    195 

Tea  in  Tibet  is  a  thing  entirely  after  its  own  kind.  It  bears 
not  the  vaguest  resemblance  to  the  pale,  scented  beverage  of  China 
and  Japan,  nor  to  the  milkless  and  lemon-flavored  glassfuls  of 
Russia ;  still  less  to  the  sugared  slops  which  one  finds  in  London. 
Tea  in  Tibet  is  imported  in  the  shape  of  bricks,  which  vary  very 
much  in  quality ;  they  are  made  in  the  province  of  Sze-chuan  and 
the  tea-leaves  are  glued,  with  something  that  looks  suspiciously 
like  sawdust,  into  hard  blocks  of  which  it  would  puzzle  Mincing 
Lane  to  distinguish  the  various  grades.  But  for  the  veriest  Tib- 
etan child  du-nyi  is  unmistakable  for  du-tang.  Next  to  du-nyi 
comes  chuha,  and  the  last  and  worst  kind  is  known  as  gye-ha} 

A  corner  is  knocked  off  a  five-pound  brick  and  it  is  infused  with 
boiling  water  in  a  teapot.  The  tea  is  then  poured  into  a  cylindri- 
cal bamboo  churn  and  a  large  lump  of  salt  is  churned  up  into  it ; 
the  amount  of  energy  which  is  spent  upon  this  churning  is  ex- 
traordinary. I  suppose  the  reason  is  that  the  heat  should  not  be 
lost  before  the  tea  is  drinkable.  The  moment  this  is  well  churned 
up,  a  pound  of  butter  is  also  slid  down  into  the  bamboo  and  an- 
other minute's  furious  work  produces  the  liquid  as  it  is  drunk  in 
Tibet.  If  you  are  expecting  the  sweetened  milky  brew  of  Eng- 
land, when  you  put  your  lips  to  it  you  will  be  disgusted.  It  is  a 
thickish  chocolate  colored  mess,  sometimes  strengthened  with  a 
little  flour,  to  give  it  greater  consistency.  But  if  you  will  regard 
it  as  soup  you  will  find  that  it  has  certain  very  sound  qualities  as 
a  meal  in  itself.  I  have  been  actually  glad  to  drink  it  after  a  long 
day. 

After  tea  our  exiled  hostess  gave  us  the  real  luncheon.  It  be- 
gan with  a  heaped  bowlful  of  boiled  eggs.  The  worst  of  these 
meals  in  a  new  country  is  that  you  never  know  either  how,  or 

*  It  is  characteristically  Eastern  that  these  four  grades  of  quality,  first,  sec- 
ond, third,  and  fourth,  should  in  Tibetan  be  called  first,  second,  tenth,  and 
eighth.  I  make  a  small  note  like  this  in  order  to  deter  the  matter-of-fact 
European  from  contradicting  the  statements  of  Central  Asian  travelers  merely 
because  they  are  logically  impossible. 


196  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

how  much  to  eat.  The  first  question  solves  itself  in  Tibet  because, 
except  as  curiosities,  there  are  no  spoons  or  forks.  But  we  did  not 
know  how  many  courses  were  to  follow,  and  it  must  be  confessed 
that  the  first  draught  of  Tibetan  tea  is  extraordinarily  effective 
in  damping  one's  appetite.  We  tried  two  eggs  apiece  out  of  the 
white  heap  and  waited.  The  servants  did  not  so  much  change  the 
dishes  as  accumulate  them,  and  little  by  little  other  things  came 
straggling  in  from  the  kitchen.  The  next  course  was  composed 
of  sweet  chupatty-like  things  which  had  absolutely  no  taste  what- 
ever and  were  rather  mealy  in  the  mouth.  Then  came  little  balls 
of  forcemeat  skewered  by  fours  upon  a  straw.  These  we  eat  con- 
scientiously, but  a  following  dish  of  twenty  different  kinds  of 
sweets  did  not  prepare  us  for  the  mo-mo  which,  as  the  Tibetan 
pikce  de  resistance,  we  should  have  anticipated.  These  are  dump- 
lings of  thick  pudding  wrapped  round  strange  meat.  I  would 
not  for  the  world  suggest  that  any  mistake  had  been  made  by 
the  cook,  but  after  the  sweets,  this  mixture  of  suet  and  carrion 
was  almost  more  than  we  could  stomach.  However,  the  dish  had 
to  be  eaten,  and  eaten  it  was.  Prince  Namgyel  was  hospitality 
itself  and  the  drink  he  offered  us  was  extraordinarily  good.  It 
was  a  home-made  whisky  with  all  the  peat  reek  of  Irish  potheen. 
Only  too  conscious  of  the  diminishing  stores  of  the  Mission,  both 
of  us  made  a  mental  note  of  this  excellent  stuff  and  determined 
that  we  would  take  off  our  host's  hands  as  much  as  he  was  willing 
to  sell  when  our  own  supplies  ran  short.^  I  remember  noticing 
behind  me,  nailed  up  against  a  pillar,  two  colored  photographs. 
One  was  of  the  new  palace  at  Gangtok,  the  other,  somewhat  to  my 
surprise,  was  of  our  host's  stepmother,  the  present  Maharani. 
This  lady,  still  one  of  the  most  attractive  looking  of  Tibetan  wo- 
men, was  a  daughter  of  the  great  aristocratic  Lhasan  family  of 

*  Unfortunately,  before  another  week  had  elapsed  the  Tibetans  were  bom- 
barding the  Mission,  a  state  of  war  was  declared,  and  poor  Namgyel  and  his 
wife  had  fled  to  his  father's  other  property  on  the  shores  of  Lake  Tsomo. 


RELIGION:  MANNERS  AND  CUSTOMS:  ART    197 

Lheding.  The  circumstances  immediately  preceding  her  mar- 
riage with  the  Maharajah,  about  seventeen  years  ago,  drew  a 
good  deal  of  attention  at  the  time  to  a  personality,  the  strength 
of  which  is  apparent  after  an  acquaintance  of  five  minutes.  In 
other  circumstances  she  might  have  exercised  the  same  power  as 
the  Empress  Dowager  of  China  or  as  the  mother  of  Queen  Su- 
pi-ya-lat;  as  it  is,  the  political  officer  of  Sikkim  will,  if  you  ask 
him,  assure  you  that  she  has  long  been  a  factor  in  our  relations 
with  Tibet  which  by  no  means  could  be  disregarded.  Her  two 
eldest  children  were  born  to  her  husband's  younger  brother  before 
she  reached  Sikkim.  This  lapse  cannot  be  explained  away  as  an 
instance  of  Tibetan  polyandry,  as  no  "  wife  "  of  a  younger  brother 
is  shared  by  the  elder  brothers.  However,  the  matter  was  over- 
looked. 

The  walls  of  Taring  were  painted  with  minute  delicacy,  and 
the  design  of  the  invariably  present  animal  acrobats — the  bird  on 
the  rabbit,  on  the  monkey,  on  the  elephant — was  the  best  I  ever 
saw.  We  took  leave  of  our  kindly  host  and  hostess,  and  the  former 
a  day  or  two  later  rode  into  camp  for  a  luncheon,  which  this  time 
was  less  of  a  change  from  the  usual  diet  of  the  guest. 

The  servants  of  Tibetans,  even  of  the  highest,  are  abominably 
dirty.  It  was  a  curious  thing  to  see  outside  the  tent,  in  which  the 
gleam  of  gold  and  brocade  and  light-blue  silk  mingled,  the  wait- 
ing attendants  with  grimy  faces  and  torn  and  dirty  clothes.  At 
Chema  I  obtained  permission  from  the  lady  herself  to  photo- 
graph the  belle  of  the  Chumbi  Valley.  I  wanted  her  to  come  out 
to  the  doorway  of  her  house,  but  she  was  much  too  aristocratic 
a  young  woman  to  be  so  taken.  I  was  asked  to  come  into  the 
women's  apartments,  where,  in  an  almost  dark  room,  the  lady, 
most  beautifully  dressed  and  certainly  looking  extremely  hand- 
some, was  seated  on  a  raised  platform,  with  her  dirty  maid  stand- 
ing behind  her.  I  did  not  want  the  maid  in  the  picture,  and  said 
so.    But  Lady  Dordem  was  firm ;  she  had  three  husbands  in  the 


198  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

room  at  the  time,  but  she  would  not  be  taken  without  a  chaperon. 
She  very  properly  argued  that  no  one  who  saw  the  picture  could 
know  that  her  natural  protectors  were  at  the  photographer's 
elbow.  The  photograph  was  not  a  success,  for  an  enormously  long 
exposure  was  necessary  and  no  contrast  of  any  kind  could  be 
obtained. 

Tibetan  women  of  the  highest  class  travel  very  little,  but  when 
they  do,  they  wrap  themselves  in  a  huge  shapeless  rug,  which  al- 
most conceals  the  fact  that  they  are  riding  astride.  The  saddles 
of  the  Tibetans  are  curious  high  structures,  under  which  a  beau- 
tiful cloth  is  placed,  and  the  whole  is  then  concealed  by  rug  after 
rug.  The  rider  is  thus  raised  eight  or  nine  inches  from  the  horse's 
back,  which  gives  his  mount  a  camel-like  appearance.  No  Tib- 
etan rides  very  fast,  but  the  ponies  are  trained  to  amble  at  a  pace 
which  gets  over  the  ground  as  fast  as  any  one  would  care  to  trot. 
Shoes  are  not  used,  and  the  bits  are  merciful;  but  there  is  the 
inevitable  Oriental  insensibility  to  the  sufferings  of  a  galled  and 
sore-backed  brute.  At  these  altitudes  sores  will  not  heal.  When 
the  skin  is  broken  the  want  of  oxygen  in  the  air  delays  the  heal- 
ing of  the  wound,  but  "  out  of  sight,  out  of  mind  "  is  as  true  in 
Tibet  as  elsewhere,  and  the  beast  is  still  ridden  day  after  day. 
On  the  crupper  and  bridle  there  are  often  fine  filigree  plates  of 
brass  and  sometimes  good  Chinese  enamel.  The  stirrups  are  un- 
necessarily heavy;  a  handsome  dragon  design  is  often  embodied 
in  them. 

I  have  said  that  the  Tibetans  are  a  courteous  race.  Unlike 
Hindustani  races,  they  not  only  have,  but  continually  use,  the 
words  for  please  (ro  nang,  literally  "  good  help  ")  and  thank  you 
(tu  che).  The  greeting  to  a  visitor,  corresponding  roughly  with 
"  how  do  you  do,"  is  literally  "  sit  and  adhere  to  the  carpet," 
while  the  farewell  of  a  visitor  may  be  translated  "  sit  down 
slowly."  His  host  speeds  his  departing  guest  with  an  adjuration 
to  "  walk  slowly."    The  language  is  entirely  distinct  both  from 


RELIGION:  MANNERS  AND  CUSTOMS:  ART    199 

Hindustani  and  Chinese.  It  is  an  agglutinative,  monosyllabic 
tongue,  and  neither  the  structure  nor  the  fairly  large  vocabulary 
is  difficult  to  acquire.  But  the  trouble  is  that  almost  from  the 
outset  the  practical  colloquial  language  is  found  by  the  learner 
to  be  an  inextricable  tangle  of  idioms.  Experience  of  the  East 
should  long  have  taught  one  never  to  say  "  why?  "  but  the  eccen- 
tricities of  the  Tibetan  wrench  it  from  one  at  every  turn.  A  thing 
which  is  at  once  apparent  is  the  indistinctness  with  which  it  is 
muttered.  If  you  were  to  say  to  a  man  "  call  me  to-morrow 
morning  at  six  o'clock,"  "  nga-la  sang-nyin  shoge  chutseu  druk- 
la  ketang"  deliberately  and  slowly,  he  would  smile  politely,  but 
make  not  the  slightest  attempt  to  understand ;  but  if,  on  the  other 
hand,  you  threw  at  him  something  like  "  nyalsannin-shoshutsti- 
dullaketn  "  you  would  be  understood  in  a  moment. 

Some  words  used  in  Tibetan  are  very  expressive ;  the  word  for 
a  duck  is  "  mud  fowl  " ;  to  awaken  is  to  "  murder  sleep  " ;  a  flower 
is  a  "  button  (or  canopy)  of  fire  ";  a  general  is  a  "  Lord  of  the 
Arrow  " ;  bribery  could  hardly  be  more  neatly  defined  than  by 
the  Tibetan  "  secret  push."  One  peculiarity  of  the  language  is 
the  use  of  two  opposites  in  conjunction  to  express  the  quality  in 
which  they  differ — thus :  distance  is  literally  "  far-near  " ;  weight 
is  "  light-heavy  " ;  height,  to-men,  is  "  high-low,"  and  dang-to, 
**  oold-warm,"  means  temperature.  The  honorific  vocabulary  is 
an  additional  stumbling-block.  For  ordinary  traveling  pur- 
poses it  is  hardly  necessary ;  the  stranger  will  always  be  pardoned 
if  he  prefaces  his  remarks  with  an  apology  for  not  being  able  to 
spcok  the  language  of  courtesy ;  but  as  every  remark  will  instinc- 
tively be  made  to  him  in  that  language  in  spite  of  his  protest,  he 
will  find  himself  very  little  advantaged.  The  vocabulary  of  the 
Tibetan  language  is  enormous,  and  it  is  very  widely  known ;  such 
comparatively  delicate  shades  of  meaning  as  are  required  to  ex- 
press slightly  varying  color  shade  in  horses  are  ready  in  abund- 
ance, and  in  Tibetan  a  chestnut  horse  with  a  black  mane  can  be 


200  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

described  in  a  word.  It  is  not,  perhaps,  necessary  to  say  more 
than  that  there  is  ready  for  use  in  Tibetan  a  single  word  which 
signifies  "  the  interdependence  of  causes."  * 

The  literature  of  the  country  is  almost  entirely  religious.  It 
consists  of  the  Kan-gyur,  or  sacred  scriptures,  in  over  one  hun- 
dred volumes;  the  Ten-gyur,  or  commentaries  thereon,  in  three 
hundred  volumes,  and  countless  tomes  filled  with  the  tales,  para- 
bles, biographies,  and  legends  of  the  great  teachers  of  the  Lamaic 
Church.  These  books  are  wonderful  things.  It  is  not  the  least 
of  the  oddities  of  Tibet  that  in  this  unlettered  country  more  beau- 
tiful books  are  produced  than  anywhere  else  in  the  world.  Before 
the  volume  is  opened,  the  covers  alone  present  an  example  of 
beauty  and  loving  care  which  Grolier  could  never  have  secured 
from  the  best  of  his  binders.  The  outer  cover  is  about  thirty 
inches  by  eleven  inches ;  it  is  of  hard,  close-grained  wood,  divided 
into  three  panels ;  each  panel  is  carved  with  minute  and  exquisite 
workmanship.  In  the  center  of  each  is  one,  or  perhaps  two  Bud- 
dhas  seated  on  the  lotus  throne,  cut  in  a  quarter-inch  relief. 
Round  him,  with  strong  and  free  grace,  the  conventional  foliage 
of  the  Bo-tree  fills  the  entire  field,  except  immediately  overhead, 
where  the  gariida  bird,  all  beak  and  eyes,  sits  keeping  watch. 
Above  and  below  are  rows  of  smaller  images  carved  in  exquisite 
detail.  The  three  panels  are  said  to  refer  to  the  three  conceptions 
of  the  Buddha.  If  that  be  so  it  is  the  only  instance  of  Maitreya, 
or  the  coming  Buddha,  being  represented  squatting  tailorwise  in 
the  Oriental  fashion.^  The  whole  cover  is  heavily  gilt,  and  one 
turns  the  leaf  to  find  a  silk  veil,  probably  of  olive-green,  carnation, 
and  rose-madder,  protecting  the  first  page  of  the  manuscript  itself. 

*  This  is  hardly  the  occasion  for  a  full  account  of  either  the  written  or  the 
spoken  language.  I  may,  however,  in  reference  to  the  former,  point  out  the 
difficulty  of  the  spelling.  Thus  the  province  of  "  U  "  is  spelled  "  DBUS  " 
and  "DE"  (rice)  is  spelled  "ABRAS."  This  is  the  spelHng  of  the  first 
syllable  of  De-bung  monastery. 

*  This  statement,  like  most  statements  which  have  long  been  accepted  about 
things  Tibetan,  is  probably  open  to  correction. 


RELIGION:  MANNERS  AND  CUSTOMS:  ART    201 

This  page  is  made  of  fine  stout  paper,  bearing  in  the  middle  what 
looks  exactly  like  the  depressed  plate  mark  of  an  etching;  the 
whole  is  of  deep,  rich-glazed  Prussian  blue,  and  in  the  inset  panel 
in  the  middle  the  opening  words  of  the  book  are  written  in  large 
raised  gold  characters.  The  next  page  contains  to  the  left  a 
miniature,  and  then  the  book  begins.  From  one  end  to  the  other 
it  is  painted  in  large  regular  letters  of  gold,  some  of  the  choicer 
books  having  alternate  lines  of  gold  and  silver.  Although  they 
are  no  longer  used,  the  holes  through  which  the  binding  strap 
originally  ran  through  the  leaves  themselves  in  two  places  qre 
still  left  clear  and  indicated  by  a  thin  gold  circle.  Cumbersome, 
of  course,  these  books  are,  but  the  care  which  is  bestowed  upon 
them  would  have  delighted  the  heart  of  William  Morris. 

Art  in  Tibet  is  still  in  a  conventional  state.  It  is  true  that 
the  technique  of  miniature  painting  upon  an  enormous  scale  has 
been  thoroughly  mastered  by  them ;  and,  as  I  have  said  elsewhere, 
the  only  parallel  to  the  microscopic  work  used  on  the  walls  of 
such  buildings  as  the  Palkhor  choide,  or  the  Nachung  Chos- 
kyong  temple  outside  Lhasa,  is  that  of  the  seventh  and  eighth 
century  illuminators  of  the  Irish  school. 

A  figure  of  Buddha  in  color  was  copied  by  myself  from  the 
wall  of  the  dining-room  at  Chang-lo.  The  original  is  of  life 
size  and  was  evidently  painted  by  one  of  the  most  capable  artists 
in  Tibet.  I  do  not  remember  ever  having  seen  another  similar 
figure  as  strongly  designed,  minutely  finished,  or  delicately 
colored.  The  use,  indeed,  of  gold,  which  it  is  impossible  ade- 
quately to  reproduce,  was  both  restrained  and  effective,  and  the 
transparent  brown  mastic  which  covers  it  mellows  the  semi- 
burnished  surface.  The  rest  of  the  wall  was  taken  up  with 
figures  almost  as  carefully  painted  by  the  same  hand.  The  dis- 
ciples of  the  Master  stand  or  sit  round  him  in  varying  attitudes 
bearing  the  symbol  of  their  identity,  while  the  great  teachers 
of  Buddhism  smile  blandly  from  the  side  walls  dividing  the 


202  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

Master  from  the  "  terrible  "  guardian  monsters  which  confront 
the  outer  world  in  every  Buddhist  shrine. 

The  general  effect  of  a  painted  wall  in  Tibet  is  not  dissimilar 
from  that  of  Italian  tapestries  of  the  best  period,  and  I  am  in- 
clined to  think  that  the  object  of  the  designer  in  both  cases  is 
the  same.  In  spite  of  the  enormous  amount  of  work  brought 
into  the  smallest  details  of  dress  and  the  delicacy  with  which 
the  flower  work  is  done,  I  doubt  whether  the  intention  of  the 
artist  in  either  case  is  to  produce  figures  to  be  examined  by 
themselves.  The  general  arrangement  and  composition  of  a 
Tibetan  fresco  is  masterful.  The  ground  is  well  covered,  but 
never  crowded;  the  subordination  of  the  less  important  to  the 
more  important  is  never  mistaken,  and  in  the  greatest  as  well 
as  the  smallest  matters  the  symbolism  is  unerring  and  full  of 
significance.  But  the  veriest  stranger  might  go  into  such  painted 
courts  as  those  of  the  first  floor  of  the  Palkhor  choide  and  re- 
main perfectly  contented  with  it  merely  as  an  almost  moving 
carpet  of  color  and  light. 

Convention  reigns  supreme,  but  it  does  not  take  long  for  the 
most  prejudiced  European  to  realize  that  these  golden  and  blue 
and  red  faced  figures  are  essential  to  the  artistic  balance  of  the 
picture,  as  well  as  the  meaning  of  the  legend  before  his  eyes. 
Of  the  color  there  is  less  to  say.  It  is  intensely  strong,  and 
though  one  rapidly  realizes  that  it  is  justified  in  the  mass,  it 
is  not  only  as  open  to  criticism  in  the  detail  as  a  holiday  crowd 
of  natives  in  India,  but  the  secret  of  the  extraordinary  har- 
monies so  successfully  produced  remains  as  completely  beyond 
the  power  of  European  reproduction. 

In  the  general  arrangement  for  the  internal  decoration  of  an 
important  room  in  a  good  house,  Gautama  will  always  be  found 
in  one  form  or  another,  seated  either  as  a  statue  or  in  paint. 
The  upper  wall  is  sometimes  furnished  on  either  side  with  the 
close  rows  of  pigeon-holes  which  serve  the  Tibetan  for  library 


RELIGION:  MANNERS  AND  CUSTOMS:  ART    203 

shelves.  At  times  a  more  realistic  form  of  oraamentation  is 
attempted,  and  here  the  limitations  of  the  artist  are  plain  indeed. 
The  religious  subjects  have,  in  the  course  of  centuries,  had  their 
treatment  crystallized  into  a  purely  national  style  of  representa- 
tion, and  the  moment  the  artist  strays  beyond  this  preserve  he 
leans  heavily  upon  the  Chinese  for  support.  Chinese  perspective 
is  used  by  them;  Chinese  landscape,  Chinese  dresses  and  faces 
are  helplessly  copied  by  Tibetan  artists,  careless  of  the  fact  that 
neither  in  feature,  robes,  nor  surroundings  are  the  two  races 
alike.  Once  or  twice  I  have  seen  a  Tibetan  attempt  to  represent 
some  well-known  natural  feature  in  the  country.  In  these  cases 
it  is  necessary  to  read  the  description  which  generally  accom- 
panies the  object  to  be  perfectly  certain  what  it  is  intended  to 
represent. 

The  Sinchen  Lama,  as  has  been  said,  caused  an  able  artist 
to  record  upon  the  walls  of  his  room  the  incidents  in  the  lives 
of  preceding  reincarnations,  and  the  story  has  been  told  of  the 
strange  way  in  which  he  thereby  foretold  his  own  death  and  of 
a  pleasant  proof  thereby  of  his  affection  for  his  little  dog.  The 
picture  is  difficult  to  photograph,  and  the  only  picture  I  was 
able  to  take  is  marred,  not  only  by  the  reflected  light  from  the 
windows  behind,  but  by  the  fact  that  it  is  partially  concealed  by 
the  open  door  to  the  right,  through  which  alone  sufficient  illu- 
mination could  be  obtained.  All  but  the  head  of  the  dog  is 
hidden.  But  that  dog  is  in  a  way  the  test  of  art  in  Tibet ;  there 
is  apparently  no  conventional  method  of  representing  a  dog, 
and  if  there  had  been  one,  it  is  clear  that  the  Lama  would  not 
have  been  satisfied  with  it,  so  this  man  was  forced  face  to  face 
with  nature  as  he  had  perhaps  never  been  compelled  before. 
The  portrait  of  the  master  of  the  dog  is  a  piece  of  pure  con- 
vention, but  the  painting  of  the  dog,  intensely  bad  as  it  is  from 
every  point  of  view  but  one,  remains  the  touchstone  of  Tibetan 
art.     There  is  such  a  minute  and  laborious  representation  of 


204  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

every  cirri  of  hair  that  one  would  hardly  be  surprised  to  find  that 
the  artist  had  attempted  to  paint  both  sides  of  the  dog  at  once. 
Bad  as  it  is,  that  picture  at  any  rate  achieves  its  purpose,  for 
that  dog  is  as  living,  as  recognizable,  and  as  pat-able  an  object 
as  ever  Briton  Riviere  created,  and  the  affection  of  the  lonely 
reincarnation,  cut  off  from  the  living  world  from  birth  to  death, 
for  his  one  fearless  and  disinterested  companion  is  apparent  in 
every  stroke  of  the  brush.  But  I  must  confess  that  of  all  the 
acres  of  painted  surface  which  I  saw  in  Tibet  this  dog  remains 
the  only  attempt  to  represent  a  subject  naturally. 

At  Gyantse  the  chief  local  artist  received  several  commissions 
from  us  which,  as  I  have  said,  were  never  fulfilled,  but  I  suspect 
that  a  good  deal  of  his  earlier  work  afterward  fell  into  the  hands 
of  our  men  at  the  taking  of  Little  Gobshi.  Hundreds  of 
tangkas'^  were  then  found,  but  as  they  were  of  no  interest  or 
value  in  the  eyes  of  the  native  troops,  the  vast  majority  of  them 
were  thrown  on  one  side,  and  the  heavy  rain  of  the  following 
night  disfigured  the  majority  almost  beyond  recognition.  These 
tangkas  are  the  most  characteristic  and  portable  expression  of 
modem  Tibetan  art.  It  says  something  for  their  good  taste 
that  those  which  they  account  most  highly  are  the  plain-line 
drawings  in  Indian  red  upon  a  gold  background,  or  of  gold  upon 
Indian  red.  Here  the  artist  owes  nothing  to  color  or  shade, 
and  some  of  the  work  is  as  strong  and  quaint  as  that  of  the 
"  Guthlac  "  designs  in  the  British  Museum. 

The  majority  of  these  tangkas  display  a  large  central  figure 
surrounded  by  smaller  flame-  or  smoke-framed  pictures  of  the 
deities  of  Lamaism.  These  pictures  often  leave  much  to  be 
desired  on  the  score  of  propriety.  It  is  one  of  the  things  which 
must  be  taken  into  consideration  with  regard  to  Lamaism  that 
decency  forms  no  part  of  it  whatever.     Immoral  the  Tibetan 

*  A  tangka  is  a  roll  painting  on  canvas  or  silk,  framed  in  rich  Chinese 
brocade,  and  generally  resembling  the  kakemonos  of  Japan. 


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RELIGION:  MANNERS  AND  CUSTOMS:  ART    205 

religion  certainly  is  not,  but  to  Western  eyes  its  manifestations 
often  assume  the  strangest  shape.^ 

Unfortunately  a  change  has  recently  come  over  Tibetan 
draftsmanship.  There  is  a  falling  away  from  the  austere 
standard  of  other  days,  and  there  is  a  distinct  tendency  to- 
ward merely  pretty  and  pink  and  white  designs  of  a  Chinese 
type.  This  is  apparent  not  only  in  the  coloring  but  in  the 
choice  of  subject.  The  colors  used  are  curious;  they  are  un- 
doubtedly water-colors  ground  up  with  a  large  amount  of  body 
color,  and  stiffened  with  glue  or  some  such  material.  They 
last  indefinitely  and,  so  far  as  can  be  guessed,  the  tints  do 
not  fade.  I  do  not  think  that  the  names  of  any  artists  are 
preserved. 

The  jewelry  of  Tibet  is  exquisitely  finished,  and  in  a  slight 
degree  suggestive  of  Byzantine  work.  I  have  in  my  possession 
several  objects  that  will  serve  as  examples  of  the  finest  work 
in  the  country.  The  crown  came  originally  from  the  head  of  a 
Buddha  in  Ne-nyeng  Monastery.  Nothing  can  exceed  the  deli- 
cacy with  which  the  figure  of  Buddha  in  carved  turquoise  is 
inset  into  the  central  leaf.  The  foliation  throughout  is  strong, 
clean  cut,  and  decided,  and  the  general  balance  of  the  diadem 
will,  I  think,  be  universally  admitted.  It  is  a  good  specimen 
of  the  best  Tibetan  work,  and  the  sparing  use  of  turquoise  in 
its  composition  is  the  more  satisfactory  because  it  is  clear 
that  neither  time  nor  money  was  spared  in  its  manufacture. 
I  bought  two  earrings  in  Lhasa.  They  are  of  gold  and  of  the 
usual  design  set  with  large  pieces  of  turquoise.  A  square  charm 
box  was  also  procured  in  Lhasa.  It  is  of  typical  design,  but 
the  stones  and  general  workmanship  are  undoubtedly  above  the 
average.    I  also  obtained  two  beautiful  charm  boxes  of  gold  and 

*It  is  interesting  to  notice  that  of  the  two  more  valued  kinds  of  tangka 
those  on  a  gold  background  are  always  austerely  chaste,  while  those  on  a  red 
field  leave  much  to  be  desired  on  the  score  of  decency.  I  think  that  those  also 
on  a  dark  blue  background  should  be  classed  with  the  latter  kind. 


2o6  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

turquoise.  Both  workmanship  and  stones  are  of  the  finest  class. 
The  single  earring  touching  the  crown  is  that  worn  by  men, 
and  it  is  worthy  of  notice  that  the  lower  drop  is  never  real  tur- 
quoise. Even  in  the  case  of  the  highest  dignitaries  this  pen- 
dant is  invariably  blue  porcelain-like  glass.  The  encircling 
necklace  is  of  raw  turquoise  lumps  set  in  silver  and  separated 
one  from  another  by  large  coral  beads. 

The  brass  work  of  the  Tibetans  exhibits  their  art  in  its  high- 
est form.  The  little  gods  which  sit  in  rows  along  the  altar 
shelves  of  Tibet  are  models  of  good  and  restrained  convention. 
The  finish  is  delicate,  and  the  sheer  technical  skill  with  which 
the  artist  manipulates  his  material  is  undeniable.  The  same 
delicate  workmanship  is  carried  also  into  other  objects  of  their 
daily  life  or  religion.  Tibetans  are  capable  of  producing  pottery 
of  a  fair  quality,  but  it  is  quite  beyond  their  powers  to  water- 
mark a  design  into  the  material. 

The  woven  stufifs  of  Tibet  are  extremely  interesting,  and  the 
patterns  are  indigenous.  I  have  elsewhere  suggested  that  in 
rugs  alone  a  thriving  and  successful  trade  might  be  carried  on 
with  the  neighborhood  of  Gyantse.  Most  of  their  silks  are 
imported  from  China.  It  may  fairly  be  said  that  nothing  manu- 
factured in  Tibet  is  positively  ugly,  and  though  the  hierocratic 
tendencies  which  have  checked  the  political  independence  of  the 
people  of  the  country  have  also  tended  to  confine  its  artists  within 
narrow  channels,  the  very  stiffness  of  the  style  has  not  been  with- 
out its  definite  use  in  educating  the  natural  taste  of  the  people. 
The  blaze  of  color  inside  a  Tibetan  gompa  might  be  thought 
garish  by  a  student  of  the  half  tones  of  Europe,  but  it  must 
be  remembered  that  in  this  land  of  thin  pure  air  and  blinding 
light,  harmonies  and  discords  are  to  be  judged  by  other  stan- 
dards than  those  of  Europe. 

Of  the  music  of  Tibet  it  is  impossible  to  say  much.  The  tem- 
ple services  are  intoned  on  three  or  four  notes,  which,  I  should 
say,  approximate  fairly  well  to  those  of  our  own  scale.     But 


SPECIMENS  OF  CHINESE-TIBETAN  WORK  IN  SILVER 


RELIGION:  MANNERS  AND  CUSTOMS:  ART    207 

the  Tibetans  have  not  reached  the  stage  at  which  noise  ceases 
to  be  the  first  aim  of  the  musician.  By  this  I  do  not  neces- 
sarily mean  that  the  noise  is  always  an  ugly  one.  The  sound, 
heard  a  mile  away  across  the  plain,  of  a  temple  gong  beaten, 
or  the  long  seductive  purr  of  a  well-blown  conch,  comes  into  the 
pictures  of  one's  memory  as  not  their  least  attractive  feature. 
But  heard  close  at  hand  the  music  of  Tibet  is  merely  barbarous. 
The  temple  orchestra  usually  consists  of  seven  men;  two  of 
them  are  occupied  with  one  of  the  big  trumpets,  one  to  hold  it  up, 
the  other  to  blow  it.  These  trumpets  furnish  a  grating  noise 
approximating  in  depth  to  the  length  of  the  instrument.  As 
this  is  anything  up  to  twelve,  or,  in  the  case  of  one  trumpet 
in  Potala,  eighteen  feet,  the  note  produced  is  low.  Two  other 
men  blow  as  seemeth  good  to  them  upon  shorter  trumpets,  one 
about  four  feet  in  length,  the  other  a  small  sixteen-inch  instru- 
ment, generally  made  out  of  a  human  thigh-bone  with  copper 
end  pieces.  Two  men  also  will  devote  themselves  to  gyalings; 
these  are  short  reed-blown  clarinets.  The  last  and  most  im- 
portant member  of  all  is  he  who  beats  the  drum.  The  drum  is  a 
kind  of  warming-pan-like  structure,  and  the  parchment  of  its 
three-foot  head  is  struck  with  a  sickle-shaped  stick.  By  a  con- 
vention, which  is  like  that  of  Europe,  the  drummer  manages  the 
cyrhbals  also.  Powerful  instruments  these  are,  taking  unques- 
tioned command  of  the  babel  whenever  used. 

Besides  all  these  the  officiating  Lama  will  from  time  to  time 
ring  a  sweet  silvery-toned  bell  at,  no  doubt,  the  accurate  inter- 
vals, but  it  must  be  confessed  that  the  general  effect  of  a  Tibetan 
service  is  not  unlike  that  of  a  farm  yard,  or  a  nursery,  and 
it  may  still  be  many  years  indeed  before  order  is  given  to  these 
sounds  confused.  One  or  two  tunes  they  have  which  can  be 
recognized.  One  of  them  is  par  excellence  the  melody  of  the 
Orient.  I  do  not  know  if  it  has  a  name,  but  Mrs.  Flora  Annie 
Steel  has  sufficiently  indicated  its  scope  and  cadence  by  wedding 
to  it  the  words,  "  Twinkle,  twinkle,  little  star." 


2o8  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

The  marriage  customs  of  Tibet  are  like  those  of  the  vast 
majority  of  mankind— the  lady  is  bought.  But  one  feature  in 
the  preliminaries  differentiates  them  strongly  from  the  methods 
of  modern  England.  The  girl's  mother  will  firmly  and  re- 
peatedly insist  upon  the  ugliness  and  uselessness  of  her  debu- 
tante whenever  a  suggestion  is  made  by  the  professional  match- 
maker of  the  village.  This  modesty,  however,  can  be  overcome 
by  a  little  -negotiation.  Groomsmen  and  bridesmaids  are,  I 
believe,  as  necessary  to  a  smart  wedding  in  Tibet  as  in  America, 
and,  if  Chandra  Das  is  to  be  believed,  the  difficulty  of  knowing 
whether  a  wedding  present  is  expected  or  not'  is  overcome  in 
Lhasa  by  a  simple  device.  The  maiden  presents  a  cheap  little 
katag  or  scarf  to  every  one  from  whom  she  would  like  a  wed- 
ding gift.  There  is  a  slight  religious  service  at  the  actual  mar- 
riage. The  officiating  lama,  after  prayer,  declares  the  woman 
to  be  from  henceforth  the  bride  of  her  husband  alone — and  his 
brothers.  The  usual  Oriental  overeating  accompanies  the  rite. 
Divorce  in  Tibet  is  expensive,  but  easily  obtained,  though  the 
necessity  for  any  such  annulment  of  the  marriage  tie  is  greatly 
reduced  by  the  frequency  of  "  Meredithian  "  marriages. 

In  private  life  the  Tibetan  is  a  cheerful  body  with,  of  course, 
the  defects  of  that  amiable  quality.  Not  infrequently  he  gets 
drunk  and  he  has  at  no  time  many  morals.  But  he  is  a  hard 
worker,  capable  of  enduring  for  weeks  extremes  of  physical  dis- 
comfort which  would  incapacitate  a  native  of  India  in  a  day, 
and,  above  all,  it  must  be  set  down  to  his  credit  that  he  is  mer- 
ciful to  his  beast.  The  tail-twisting  of  bullocks  stops  at  our 
frontier.  He  has,  of  course,  no  nerves,  or  it  is  possible  that  the 
dogs  which  swarm  over  the  country  and  form  one  of  its  most 
prominent  features  would  fare  badly  even  at  the  hands  of  a 
Buddhist. 

They  are  an  unmitigated  nuisance,  savage  by  day  and  noisy 
by  night.     Every  breed  of  dog  known  to  the  fancier  seems  to 


RELIGION:  MANNERS  AND  CUSTOMS:  ART       209 

have  been  mixed  in  this  sandy-coated  pack.  It  is  curious,  how- 
ever, that  in  spite  of  the  out-of-door  life  which  is  led  by  them, 
the  type  to  which  they  have  reverted  is  not  that  of  the  wolf 
or  collie,  but  rather  that  of  the  Esquimaux  sledge  dog.  Some 
of  them  are  easily  domesticated,  and  the  puppies  are  friendly 
little  things  only  too  anxious  to  be  adopted.  The  typical  Tibetan 
terrier,  a  long-coated  little  fellow  with  a  sharp  nose,  prick  ears, 
and,  as  a  rule,  black  from  muzzle  to  tail,  we  found  but  seldom 
in  a  pure  state.* 

^The  finest  specimens  of  this  breed  are  owned  by  Mrs.  Claude  White — 
"Tippoo,"  "  Jugri,"  and  scantily  coated  "  Nari "  came  up  with  us  to  Lhasa 
with  their  master.  But  "  Sebu,"  a  sable  freak  in  the  same  family,  and  beyond 
question  the  most  beautiful  of  them  all,  remained  at  Gangtok. 


CHAPTER   XII 

^      INTERNAL   HISTORY  OF  LHASA    I9O2-4 

BEFORE  taking  up  again  the  story  of  the  Expedition  I 
propose  to  sketch  the  internal  affairs  of  Lhasa  for  the  last 
few  years  with  somewhat  greater  detail  than  before.  The  key 
to  the  situation  in  Tibet,  which  was  now  becoming  desperate,  is 
to  be  found  in  the  deliberate  and  steady  determination  of  the 
Tibetans  to  do  away  with  the  Chinese  suzerainty.  This  is  a 
policy  of  long  standing.  Thirty-five  years  ago  the  spirit  of  in- 
dependence was  already  abroad  in  Tibet,  and  there  was  a  recog- 
nized progressive  party,  headed  by  no  less  ^a  dignitary  than  the 
treasurer  of  Gaden  monastery.  Under  the  old  regime,  as  is  well 
known,  a  consistent  policy  of  regency,  made  possible  only  by  the 
equally  systematic  assassination  of  each  successive  young  Grand 
Lama  before  he  reached  the  age  of  eighteen,  resulted  in  a  contin- 
ual regency,  and  therefore  also  a  continual  opportunity  for  the  as- 
sertion and  reassertion  of  the  Chinese  suzerainty,  for  no  regent 
could  be  appointed  without  the  sanction  of  the  Chinese  Emperor. 
The  very  election  of  the  Dalai  Lama  himself  was  theoretically 
subject  to  the  approval  of  Peking,  but  this  prerogative  was  sel- 
dom, or  never,  exercised.  In  other  parts  of  his  dominions  the 
Chinese  Emperor  made  undoubted  use  of  his  rights.  At  Urga,  a 
new  Taranath  Grand  Lama,  the  third  in  importance  in  the  Bud- 
dhist world,  was,  on  one  occasion,  peremptorily  disqualified  by  his 
majesty  on  the  grounds  that  his  immediate  predecessor  had  been 
a  turbulent  and  seditious  fellow,  and  that  there  was  no  good 
ground  for  supposing  that  he  had  been  reincarnated  in  any 

210 


INTERNAL  HISTORY  OF  LHASA  1902-4       211 

human  being.  Against  this  the  good  people  of  MongoHa  entered 
a  violent  protest.  They  said  that  such  a  contention  cut  at  the 
root  of  their  religion,  and  so  much  trouble  did  they  give  that 
eventually  the  Emperor  compromised ;  he  said  that  as  the  monks 
of  Urga  had  chosen  a  Mongolian  to  be  their  chief  he  would 
allow  the  election  to  stand,  but  that  on  no  account  thencefor- 
ward was  a  reincarnation  to  take  place  in  the  body  of  a  Tibetan. 
The  descent  of  the  spirit  is  thus  regulated  to-day.  Again  it  is 
necessary  to  remind  the  European  reader  with  a  sense  of  hu- 
mor that  these  apparent  absurdities  are  the  source  of  very  real 
and  often  very  bitter  political  feeling  in  the  Far  East,  and  that 
the  application  of  European  habits  of  thought  to  these  circum- 
stances can  only  result  in  a  total  misapprehension  of  the  whole 
situation.  The  Tibetans  see  no  absurdity  in  situations  thus  cre- 
ated at  a  time  when  in  other  ways  their  national  aspirations  were 
shaping  a  shrewd  and  Occidental  policy. 

The  leader  of  the  party  died  indeed  before  achieving  success, 
but  it  is  worth  notice  that  in  the  election  of  the  present  Dalai 
Lama,  in  1874,  a  change  directly  attributable  to  the  dead  re- 
former's personality  was  made  in  the  devolution  of  the  spirit 
of  Avalokiteswara.  In  the  old  days  the  names  of  all  babies  born 
at  the  time  of  the  assassination  of  the  previous  Dalai  Lama  were 
written  on  slips  and  put  into  a  golden  urn,  which,  it  is  reported, 
levitated  itself  and  thrice  cast  forth  the  slip  of  paper  bearing 
the  name  of  the  chosen  child.  This  miracle  is  supposed  to  have 
been  somewhat  assisted  by  the  writing  of  the  same  name  upon 
every  slip,  and  it  was  to  guard  against  any  such  political  manipu- 
lation of  this  all-important  choice  that  a  new  plan  of  selection 
was  then  adopted.  Acting  upon  the  counsels  of  the  chief  ma- 
gician of  Nachung  choskyong,  the  discovery  of  the  new  Dalai 
Lama  was  intrusted  to  the  pious  clairvoyance  of  the  Shar-tse 
Abbot  of  Gaden.  This  man,  acting  upon  instructions,  went  to 
the  Chos-kor  Plain,  to  the  east  of  Lhasa,  and  there  on  the  surface 


212  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

of  the  Muli-ding-ki  lake  the  new  reincarnation  was  seen  in  his 
mother's  lap  upon  a  lotus  flower.  After  a  brief  search  for 
mother  and  child,  Tubdan  Gyatso,  the  present  pontiff,  was 
c  found  at  Paru-chude  in  the  district  of  Tag-po.  This  method 
of  choosing  a  successor  to  the  divine  authority  checkmated  the 
ordinary  intrigues  by  which  family  influence  as  well  as  official 
guardianship  secured  to  the  Chinese  suzerain  no  small  voice  in 
the  acts  of  the  doomed  child's  government.  The  last  regent, 
as  has  been  said,  was  chosen  from  Gaden,  though  he  also  had 
some  connection  with  the  Kun-de-ling  in  Lhasa.* 

Eighteen  years  afterward,  when,  under  other  circumstances, 
his  life  would  have  been  brought  to  a  sudden  conclusion,  Tub- 
dan  Gyatso  was  spared.  This  has  been  attributed  by  some  to 
the  unrest  prevailing  during  our  troubles  with  India  at  that  time ; 
the  treaty  was  then  actually  in  process  of  construction  in  Cal- 
cutta, and  it  is  very  likely  that  the  recent  war  with  ourselves 
had  suggested  to  the  shrewder  Tibetans  that  the  time  had  come 
finally  to  take  their  affairs  into  their  own  hands.  China  had 
been  of  no  use  to  them  in  their  dispute  with  India,  and  to  have 
"  reincarnated  "  the  Dalai  Lama  at  that  moment  meant  a  repe- 
tition of  the  usual  opportunity  for  the  exertion  of  Chinese  in- 
fluence which  would  have  been  peculiarly  inopportune  and  even 
disastrous.  He  was  therefore  allowed  to  survive  maturity, 
but  only  as  a  religious  pontiff,  the  temporal  power  remaining 
in  the  hands  of  the  regent.  But  as  soon  as  the  treaty  was  signed 
the  last  vestige  of  Chinese  influence  in  Tibet  was  thrown  off  by 
a  coup  d'etat,  in  1895,  strangely  resembling  that  of  King  Alex- 
ander of  Servia  under  similar  circumstances :  Tubdan  Gyatso  de- 
clared himself  temporal  sovereign  as  well  as  religious  autocrat, 
cast  the  regent  into  prison,  and  poisoned  him  almost  immediately. 

^  It  is  impossible  to  obtain  very  accurate  information  upon  a  point  like  this. 
A  Tibetan  has  his  ' '  La-lis ' '  out  of  his  mouth  before  a  name  is  even  men- 
tioned. 


INTERNAL  HISTORY  OF  LHASA   1902-4       213 

Such  was  the  position  in  1901.  There  were  at  this  time  three 
important  men  in  Lhasa :  the  Dalai  Lama,  Dorjieff,  and  the  "  Pre- 
mier " — the  Shata  Shape.*  The  last  of  the  triumvirate  was  a 
man  who  had  been  brought  into  prominence  some  years  ago  by 
an  unfortunate  incident  in  Darjeeling,  The  story  is  well  known : 
a  Tibetan  was  ducked  in  the  fountain  for  insolence  displayed  by 
him  or  by  one  of  his  countrymen  toward  an  Englishwoman  in 
a  rickshaw.  The  man's  rudeness  did  not,  perhaps,  justify  so 
drastic  a  punishment,  but  it  was  not  altogether  unnatural,  and 
it  was  our  misfortune  rather  than  our  fault  that  we  thus  in- 
curred the  perpetual  and  bitter  hatred  of  the  man,  who,  in  the 
course  of  a  few  years,  was  destined  to  become  prime  minister  of 
Tibet;  for  the  victim  was  no  other  than  the  Shata  Shape,  then 
exiled  and  under  a  temporary  cloud.  He  never  forgot  or  for- 
gave, and  it  is  not  surprising  that  when  the  opportunity  pre- 
sented itself  he  flung  himself  heart  and  soul  into  the  change  of 
policy  advocated  by  Dorjieff.  Sufficient  reference  has  already 
been  made  to  the  career  of  Dorjieff;  of  the  Dalai  Lama,  we  only 
know  from  Chinese  sources  that  he  is  a  headstrong  and  some- 
what conceited  man,  not  without  strength  of  character,  but  in- 
tolerant of  restraint  in  any  form.  Physically  he  is  a  tall  and 
powerfully  built  man  with  unusually  oblique  eyes. 

Opposed  to  them  stood  the  various  representatives  and  dele- 
gates of  the  ruling  priestly  caste,  greatly  swayed  by  the  tradi- 
tional respect  and  homage  which  the  Grand  Lama's  position 
inspires  in  the  least  dutiful  of  his  subjects,  but  stubbornly  refus- 
ing to  depart  from  their  ancient  principles  and  the  policy  of 
seclusion  which  had  stood  Tibet  and  themselves  in  good  stead 
for  so  long.  In  all  else  the  Dalai  Lama  was  able  to  have  his  way, 
but  neither  the  introduction  of  a  Russian  protectorate,  nor  the 
presence  of  Russian  representatives  in  Lhasa,  would  the  Tsong-du 
tolerate  in  any  form  whatever,  or  for  an  instant.  To  neither  side 
*  He  is  also  known  as  Shaffi  Phen-tso  Dorje. 


214  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

were  the  claims  or  the  opinions  of  the  Chinese  of  the  shghtest 
moment.  The  return  of  Dorjieff  in  December  with  the  unoffi- 
cial understanding  between  Russia  and  Tibet  was,  therefore,  the 
inauguration  of  a  difficult  period  for  the  Dalai  Lama. 

The  existence  of  this  understanding  was  a  fact  that  he  could 
neither  openly  avow  nor,  on  the  other  hand,  entirely  conceal. 
The  solemn  anti-foreigner  covenant,  signed  by  the  Tsong-du, 
was  obstinately  pleaded  by  the  opposition  and  nothing  could  be 
done.  The  Dalai  Lama  changed  his  methods.  Not  for  a  moment 
did  he  abandon  the  policy  which  promised  to  secure  for  himself 
and  for  his  country  the  apparently  gratuitous  protettion  of 
Russia  and  freedom  from  the  ever-present  dread  of  the  English ; 
and  he  did  not  attempt  to  conceal  his  not  unnatural  dislike  for  the 
short-sighted  policy  of  the  Tsong-du,  by  which  he  now  found 
himself  as  much  thwarted  as  by  any  possible  interference  of 
China.  But  in  their  existing  mood  it  was  impossible  to  coerce 
the  members  of  the  National  Council,  so  for  the  future  he  de- 
termined to  use  the  wide  powers  he  was  able  to  wield  without 
1  reference  to  it,  and  he  believed  that  their  scope  was  extensive 
enough  to  carry  through  his  matured  Russophile  policy,  not  so 
much  by  the  deliberate  choice  of  the  Tsong-du,  as  of  necessity, 
and  he  set  himself  determinedly  to  bring  about  that  necessity. 
This  was  no  easy  task.  There  was  no  trouble  then  with  India, 
and  the  self-confident  Tibetans  attached  small  value  to  any  in- 
ducements that  Russia  could  hold  out.  Tibet  had  succeeded  easily 
in  regaining  her  independence  of  China,  and  could  conceive  no 
reason  for  putting  herself  again  under  obligation  to  any  man. 
But  with  shrewder  foresight  the  Dalai  Lama  saw  that  some  such 
protection  from  the  north  or  from  the  south  was  ultimately  in- 
evitable. He  chose  to  make  a  truce  with  Russia.  Apart  from 
the  practical  inducements  offered  by  Dorjieff,  it  must  be  remem- 
bered in  his  choice  of  an  ally  that  he  was  acting  upon  a  principle 
well  known  in  the  East.     Long  before  his  days  the  worn  out 


INTERNAL  HISTORY  OF  LHASA  1902-4       215 

shoes  and  moldy  bread  of  the  men  of  Gibeon  had  persuaded 
Joshua  that  it  was  safe  to  make  a  treaty  of  peace  with  so  distant 
a  tribe.  The  moral  effect  of  an  alliance  with  either  was,  as  he 
knew  well,  a  guarantee  for  the  non-interference  of  the  other. 
Now  India  is  but  a  fortnight  away,  while  Russia,  by  the  quick- 
est route,  is  full  four  months'  journey  distant. 

So  soon,  therefore,  as  he  could  make  the  Tsong-du  recognize 
the  necessity  for  outside  support,  he  knew  that  the  assistance  of 
Russia,  as  being  the  more  distant  friend,  would,  as  a  matter  of 
course,  be  preferred  by  it  to  the  traditional  and  imminent  men- 
ace of  Indian  influence.  He  set  himself  to  bring  this  recognition 
about,  and  it  was  clear  that  if  friction  could  in  some  way  be 
established  in  his  relations  with  India,  he  would  have  gone  far 
toward  obtaining  his  end.  In  achieving  his  purpose,  he  had 
neither  scruples  nor  difficulty.  Reference  has  been  made  before 
to  the  policy  of  aggression  he  adopted,  but  the  acts  may  be  briefly 
recapitulated  here.  The  frontier  regulations  of  Sikkim  were 
violated  in  a  flagrant  manner ;  the  grazing  rights  near  Giao-gong 
were  encroached  upon  in  a  way  which  he  was  well  aware  we 
could  not  much  longer  suffer.  A  customs  house  and  a  barrier 
were  actually  erected  and  occupied,  and  British  subjects  kept 
out  by  force  from  a  small  portion  of  the  British  Empire.  Even- 
tually the  arrival  of  a  letter  from  Lord  Curzon,  in  the  middle 
of  1902,  offered  him  an  opportunity  he  was  not  slow  to  use.  The 
letter  was  returned  unopened,  without  apology  or  comment  of 
any  kind.  Such,  it  will  be  remembered,  was  the  situation  imme- 
diately before  the  arrival  of  the  Mission  at  Kamba-jong. 

Under  this  new  regime  the  Tsong-du  were  little  consulted. 
It  was  Tubdan's  intention  to  use  them  afterward,  but  rather 
for  the  mere  purpose  of  ratifying  an  inevitable  policy  than  of 
asking  them  their  opinion  upon  its  wisdom.  No  definite  infor- 
mation of  their  attitude  seems  to  have  been  sent  to  Russia. 
Rifles  were  from  time  to  time  received  and  stored  at  Norbu-ling 


2i6  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

under  the  Dalai  Lama's  personal  supervision,  and  Dorjieff  con- 
tinued to  distribute  small  but  valuable  European-made  gifts 
among  the  leading  men  of  Lhasa.  The  action  of  the  Indian 
government  in  sending  Mr.  Claude  White  to  enforce  the  rights 
of  the  Sikkimese  over  their  grazing  grounds  was  interpreted  by 
the  Grand  Lama  as  an  act  of  overt  hostility,  and  was  used  to 
hasten  the  catastrophe — all  the  more  readily,  perhaps,  because 
of  the  repeated  warnings  of  the  old  Amban  Yu-kang  that  the 
Tibetan  policy  with  regard  to  the  English  was  both  foolish  and 
ultra  vires:  his  protests  were,  however,  consistently  and  inso- 
lently ignored.  At  last,  however,  it  seems  that  the  Shata  Shape 
recoiled  before  the  lengths  to  which  the  Dalai  Lama,  now  utterly 
in  the  toils  of  Dorjieff,  was  prepared  to  go.  The  exact  circum- 
stances of  their  quarrel  are  not  known,  but  it  is  clear  that  in 
1903  the  Shata  Shape  was  deposed  from  office  and  thrown  into 
prison;  where,  I  believe,  the  unfortunate  man  remains.  The 
story  of  this  incident  is  not  without  interest. 

We  get  glimpses  of  the  internal  affairs  of  Lhasa  about  this 
time,  which  reveal  sufficiently  clearly  the  chaos  which  was  then 
reigning.  To  any  demur  on  the  part  of  his  colleagues  in  the 
government,  the  Dalai  Lama  opposed  ill  temper  instead  of  ar- 
gument, and  soon  made  the  unfortunate  discovery  that  the  slight- 
est threat  of  resignation  from  temporal  affairs — which  one  might 
have  supposed  to  be  no  unwelcome  idea  to  his  harassed  colleagues 
— speedily  reduced  the  most  insubordinate  member  of  the 
Tsong-du  to  submissiveness. 

But  the  dissatisfaction  of  Tibet  with  the  Russophile  tenden- 
cies of  the  Grand  Lama  could  not  thus  be  checked,  and  the  co- 
operation of  England  and  China  in  the  advance  of  the  Mission 
to  Kamba-jong  was  a  rebuff  for  the  Grand  Lama  that  could  not 
be  misinterpreted.  The  great  astrologer  of  Tibet,  the  Lama  of 
Re-ting,  was  asked  about  this  time  to  interpose  the  influence  of 
the  stars  against  the  encroachment  of  the  British.    It  is  remark- 


I 


A  TIBETAN   POLITICAL  AGENT 


INTERNAL  HISTORY  OF  LHASA  1902-4       217 

able  that  in  his  answer  he  makes  the  definite  charge  that  the 
troubles  from  which  Tibet  was  suffering  were  due  to  the  fact 
that  bribes  of  European  money  had  been  unlawfully  accepted 
by  Tibetan  officials. 

On  the  3d  or  4th  of  October,  it  was  asserted  that  150  Russian 
rifles  *  were  brought  to  the  Potala  by  Dorjieff.  At  this  time  the 
latter's  influence  reached  its  highest  point,  and  it  was  regretfully 
admitted  in  Lhasa  that  even  the  Shapes  themselves  were  obliged 
to  curry  favor  with  him  to  get  anything  done  or  even  listened 
to  by  the  Dalai  Lama.  About  this  time,  owing  to  the  direct 
intervention  of  Dorjieff,  the  Dalai  Lama  took  the  arbitrary 
and  high-handed  step  to  which  we  have  referred.  On  the  13th 
of  October  he  sent  for  and  imprisoned  at  Norbu-ling  the  four 
ministers  of  state  and  the  representatives  of  the  Three  Monas- 
teries. He  accused  the  Shata  Shape  of  having  taken  bribes ;  the 
other  members  were  charged  with  having  concealed  from  the 
Dalai  Lama  important  facts  connected  with  the  boundary  dis- 
pute, with  having  taken  money  from  Ugyen  Kazi  ^  on  the  occa- 
sion of  the  presentation  of  an  elephant,  with  being  behindhand 
in  their  biennial  reports,  and,  in  general,  with  disobedience  to  his 
Holiness,  and  with  attempting  to  carry  on  the  business  of  the 
country  contrary  to  his  intentions  and  orders.  In  order  to  carry 
through  this  coup-de-main,  he  once  again  threatened  to  resign 
and  adopt  the  meditative  life  unless  his  action  were  indorsed. 

He  was  completely  successful. 

*  It  was  believed  in  Lhasa  that  weapons  were  continually  arriving  in  camel 
loads,  bnt  it  is  more  probable  that  they  were  barrels  only.  The  Tip  arsenal 
across  the  river  was  working  at  high  pressure,  and  even  during  our  brief  ex- 
perience of  Tibetan  munitions  of  war  it  was  possible  to  observe  a  very  distinct 
improvement  in  the  manufactured  cartridges;  the  rifles  here  made  consisted, 
as  a  rule,  of  a  local  Martini  lock  adjusted  somewhat  carelessly  to  an  old  Euro- 
pean-made barrel  of  some  discarded  pattern. 

*  Ugyen  Kazi,  horsedealer  and  diplomatist,  is  the  most  conspicuous  figure 
on  the  Tibetan  frontier.  He  was  used  by  the  Indian  Government  in  1902  as 
the  bearer  of  the  letters  to  the  Dalai  Lama  which  were  returned  unopened  to 
Lord  Curzon.  A  commanding  presence  and  a  quick  humor  also  has  this  man, 
who  might  use  Elizabeth's  scratching  on  the  Hatfield  window  for  his  motto. 


2i8  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

Almost  the  last  act  of  these  unhappy  men  was  a  refusal  to 
attend  the  annual  review  on  the  plain  between  Sera  and  Lhasa 
on  the  day  when  the  Emperor  of  China  is  customarily  saluted 
by  obeisance  made  toward  the  east.  It  is  probable  that  they 
refused  to  attend  this  yearly  ceremony  in  order  to  avoid  offend- 
ing either  the  Emperor  or  the  Dalai  Lama,  either  by  abandoning 
or  persisting  in  the  old  custom  which  the  latter  seems  now  to 
have  forbidden  for  the  future,  and  it  is  not  without  significance 
that,  in  order  to  save  themselves  from  internal  treachery,  the 
four  deposed  Shapes  had  bound  themselves  by  an  oath  to  stand 
or  fall  together. 

The  points  were  put  upon  the  i's  of  the  situation  by  a  remark 
of  the  Amban's  about  this  time  that  even  if  ambassadors  were 
sent  to  meet  the  British  at  any  point,  and  even  if  they  succeeded 
in  coming  to  an  agreement,  the  Tsong-du  would  refuse  to  ratify 
the  treaty.  Of  the  four  Shapes  or  Kalons,  the  monk  official 
Te-kang,  the  Shata  Shape,  and  Sho-kang  were  the  more  respon- 
sible and  respectable  officers ;  the  last,  by  name  Hor-kang,  a  man 
of  somewhat  weak  character,  who  had  been  in  office  but  four 
months,  committed  suicide  almost  immediately  in  terror.  Their 
places  were  taken  by  the  Ta  Lama  as  ecclesiastical  member,  the 
head  of  the  house  of  Yutok,  the  Tsarong  Depen,  and  the  Tse- 
chung  Shape;  none  of  them,  with  the  exception  of  the  Yutok 
Shape,  of  any  social  position  or  strength  of  mind. 

The  Ta  Lama,  whom  we  repeatedly  met  at  one  time  or  an- 
other, was  a  gentlemanlike  old  priest,  verging  on  his  second 
childhood  and  incapable  of  keeping  his  attention  fixed  on  any 
subject  for  more  than  a  minute  or  so  at  a  time.  The  Yutok 
Shape  was  a  phlegmatic  fatalist  who  seemed  fully  aware  of  the 
impossibility  of  doing  anything  fof  his  country  with  the  scanty 
authority  he  possessed.  The  other  two  were  negligible  quan- 
tities and  were  clearly  appointed  for  the  sole  purpose  of  allow- 
ing a  freer  hand  to  the  Dalai  Lama's  personal  eccentricities. 


THE  TA   LAMA  AT   TASKI-TSE 
The  chief  executive  member  of  the  hierarchy  under  the  Dalai  Lama 


INTERNAL  HISTORY  OF  LHASA   1902-4       219 

With  this  ramshackle  government  the  affairs  of  Tibet  were  car- 
ried on;  every  now  and  then  the  Amban,  who  had  already  re- 
ceived notice  of  his  dismissal,  tried,  in  a  weak  manner,  to  settle 
the  matter  by  a  personal  appeal  to  the  Grand  Lama  or  the  Tsong- 
du,  but  the  treatment  of  the  Mission  at  Kamba-jong  is  witness 
enough  to  the  small  importance  that  was  attached  to  Chinese 
representations  at  this  period.  In  December,  1903,  the  Shapes, 
by  instruction  of  the  Dalai  Lama,  definitely  refused  transport 
to  the  Amban.  This,  by  preventing  his  approaching  Colonel 
Younghusband,  was  tantamount  to  an  active  refusal  to  allow 
China  to  interfere  in  any  way.  It  was  the  last  straw ;  he  angrily 
demanded  that  their  refusal  to  obey  the  orders  of  the  Chinese 
Emperor  should  be  set  down  in  writing.  It  was  probably  some- 
what to  his  surprise  that  the  Dalai  Lama  instantly  acquiesced  and 
assumed  full  responsibility  for  the  action.  Tibet  had  decided 
to  act  as  an  independent  kingdom,  and  as  soon  as  the  gauntlet 
had  been  thrown  down,  troops  were  moved  out  from  Lhasa  along 
the  southern  road  to  Phari.  Yu-kang  then  rather  weakly  offered 
to  pay  his  own  transport  expenses,  but  this  was  as  steadily  re- 
fused as  before.  For  some  time  now  the  Amban  had  been  unable 
to  obtain  an  answer  from  the  Dalai  Lama  even  to  questions 
wholly  unconnected  with  the  dispute  with  ourselves;  from  this 
moment  he  was  an  insignificant  and  ultimately  a  disgraced  man. 
The  arrival  of  the  new  Amban,  Yu-tai,  was  about  this  time  an- 
nounced from  Chyando,  and  Yu-kang  made  his  preparations  to 
return.  His  degradation  was  no  loss  to  us.  He  had  been  acting 
upon  the  confidential  orders  of  Yung-lu  for  many  years  and  un- 
doubtedly supported  the  Tibetans  in  their  refusal  to  negotiate 
with  the  English,  relying  upon  assurances  received  from  Yung-lu 
that  Lhasa  would  be  occupied  by  Russian  troops  in  the  spring 
of  1903.  This  corroborates  Dorjieff's  boast,  and  our  minister  in 
Peking  obtained  from  Prince  Ching  an  admission  that  he  had 
heard  the  report.    Nor  when  pressed  did  the  Russian  minister  in 


220  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

Peking  deny  that  there  was  a  certain  rapprochement  "  on  religious 
grounds  " ;  but  Yung-lu's  death  shortly  afterward  and  the  first 
rumblings  of  the  Japanese  war  cloud  effectually  held  the  hand  of 
Russia.  The  Dalai  Lama  therefore  found  himself  in  the  posi- 
tion of  having  paved  the  way  for  advances  on  Russia's  part  from 
which  nothing  was  to  be  expected,  while  from  our  side  he  could 
only  await  that  demand  for  satisfaction  and  a  clearer  understand- 
ing which  he  had  himself  deliberately  provoked. 

By  this  time  even  the  pious  citizens  of  Lhasa  were  grumbling 
against  their  divine  ruler.  They  whispered  that  the  Potala  Lama, 
as  he  is  not  infrequently  called  in  Lhasa,  after  having  murdered 
the  regent  of  Tibet  and  imprisoned  the  Shapes,  was  about  to  con^- 
summate  his  folly  by  losing  the  country  itself  as  well.  The  wild- 
est confusion  prevailed  in  official  circles ;  no  man  trusted  his  near- 
est friend ;  the  Amban,  trying  perhaps  to  retrieve  his  credit  at  the 
last  moment,  appears  now  and  then  in  a  whirl  of  fussy  and  impo- 
tent ill  temper,  making  demands  that  his  master  must  be  obeyed, 
that  transport  must  be  provided  for  him,  that  the  La-chung  men 
must  be  released  at  once.^  No  one  paid  him  the  slightest  atten- 
tion, and  at  last  he  seems  to  have  subsided  upon  receipt  of  an  un- 
pleasant communication  from  Peking,  intimating  that  his  punish- 
ment would  be  decided  upon  after  he  had  returned ;  and  this  is  the 
end  of  Yu-kang. 

Meanwhile  the  new  Amban  was  slowly  making  his  progress 
toward  Lhasa.  He  had  started  in  November,  1902,  and  fifteen 
months  seems  an  inordinate  time  for  even  a  Chinese  official  to  take 
in  covering  the  distance  which  separates  Lhasa  from  Peking.    He 

*  Two  men  from  Sikkim  had  been  caught  by  the  Tibetans  and  detained  by 
them  during  our  stay  at  Kamba-jong.  It  was  almost  universally  reported  that 
they  had  been  tortured  and  put  to  death  in  Shigatse,  but  on  our  arrival  in 
Lhasa  they  were  found  to  be  still  in  prison  there,  and  on  the  17th  of  August 
Colonel  Younghusband  had  them  released.  This  incident  at  one  time  seemed 
likely  to  give  rise  to  serious  complications,  but  thus  it  ended  happily,  and  the 
men  themselves  made  no  charge  of  brutality  against  their  Tibetan  jailers. 


INTERNAL  HISTORY  OF  LHASA   1902-4       221 

had  asked  for  an  escort  of  2,000  men  to  accompany  him,  but 
as  a  matter  of  fact  he  found  it  difficult  to  provide  for  the  needs 
of  the  bare  hundred  whom  he  was  allowed  to  take.  He  had  been 
selected  for  the  post  because  he  was  the  brother  of  Sheng-tai  who 
had  concluded  the  unfortunate  treaty  of  1890,  and  it  was  re- 
garded as  only  fitting  and  just  by  the  Oriental  mind  that  the 
harm  done  by  one  member  of  a  family  should  be  rectified  by  an- 
other. On  his  way  he  met  Mr.  Nicholls,  an  American,  at  Ta- 
chien-lu,  the  frontier  city,  where  he  seems  to  have  spent  some 
time  in  extracting  money  from  the  Chinese  prefect  and  the  Tib- 
etan *'  gyalpo  "  alike.  He  seems  to  have  asserted  his  intention 
of  restoring  Chinese  authority,  and  he  admitted  no  sympathy  with 
the  Tibetan  desire  for  seclusion,  arguing  that  if  Sze-chuan  was 
open  to  foreigners  there  could  be  no  reason  why  the  pretensions 
of  the  Tibetans  should  ^be  permitted  for  a  moment.  He  moved 
on  to  Batang  for  the  same  dubious  purposes  .that  had  detained 
him  at  Ta-chien-lu.^ 

On  the  1 2th  of  February,  the  belated  official  reached  Lhasa  and 
assumed  the  reins  of  government.  Later  in  the  same  month  Dor- 
jieff's  influence  began  to  wane.  The  intrigues  with  Russia  had 
been  overdone  and  were  the  common  talk  of  the  town.  It  was 
'  known  and  widely  resented  that  the  Dalai  Lama  had  sent  back  to 
St.  Petersburg  a  Buriat  who  had  come  to  Dorjieff,  bringing  with 
him  a  large  sum  of  money.  Moreover,  the  new  Amban,  whatever 
his  moral  deficiencies,  had  at  least  some  energy  at  first.  He  tried 
to  carry  things  with  a  high  hand,  and  one  of  his  first  actions  was 
severely  to  censure  the  inaction  of  a  Chinese  representative,  who 
had  been  ordered  south  to  confer  with  Younghusband ;  he  seems 
also  to  have  given  our  Kamba-jong  acquaintance,  Ho,  a  bad 

*  Mr.  Nicholls  notes  that  at  this  place  the  hair  and  scraps  of  the  finger-nails 
of  the  Dalai  Lama  were  sold  at  enormous  prices  in  the  market,  and  Mr.  Wil- 
ton tells  me  that  there  is  a  constant  demand  in  Peking  for  scraps,  however 
dirty,  of  his  Holiness'  clothing,  and  even  more  repulsive  relics  of  the  great 
Reincarnation 


222  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

quarter  of  an  hour  on  the  ground  that  he  had  misappropriated 
Government  money.  A  week  after  his  arrival  he  made  an  official 
visit  to  the  Dalai  Lama,  and  for  three  hours  attempted  to  bring 
him  to  reason ;  it  was  not,  however,  of  much  use,  and  on  his  return 
to  the  Residency  the  Amban  set  himself  to  the  re-organization  and 
reform  of  the  military  arrangements  in  Tibet  so  far  as  the  Chinese 
soldiery  was  concerned.  On  one  point  at  least  he  failed  as  com- 
pletely as  his  predecessor;  he,  too,  first  requested  and  finally  de- 
manded that  he  should  be  allowed  transport  to  go  to  Tuna  to  meet 
Younghusband,  or  Yun-hai-phun,  as  they  transliterated  the  name. 
This  the  Dalai  Lama  courteously  but  firmly  refused.  At  a  sub- 
sequent visit  the  Amban  seems  to  have  moderated  his  tone,  but  to 
no  effect ;  the  Dalai  Lama  again  cheerfully  accepted  the  responsi- 
bility for  every  obstacle  that  was  placed  in  the  way  of  the  Am- 
ban's  intended  journey,  and  refused  to  permit  the  strengthening 
of  the  Chinese  garrisons  at  the  frontier  and  in  Lhasa,  The  mood 
of  the  Tibetans  at  this  period  was  anything  but  conciliatory.  The  • 
Tongsa  Penlop,  who  had  written  offering  his  services  as  mediator 
once  again,  was  told  that  only  after  a  retreat  to  Yatung  and  pay- 
ment of  damages  for  our  trespass  at  Phari  would  the  question 
of  negotiation  be  opened. 

But  the  display  of  temper  was  not  confined  to  officials.  About 
this  time  levies  from  the  province  of  Kams  were  called  up,  but 
they  refused  to  come,  alleging  that  no  proper  rations  had  been 
served  out  to  them;  a  promise  of  proper  supplies  (which,  by  the 
way,  was  never  performed)  induced  them  to  send  about  a  thou- 
sand men  for  the  defense  of  Lhasa,  but  in  other  parts  of  the  coun- 
try the  demands  of  the  Dalai  Lama  were  met  with  a  blank  refusal. 
Upon  the  top  of  this  came  the  news  of  the  disaster  at  Guru  and 
of  our  occupation  of  Gyantse  jong.  The  discontent  redoubled. 
Dorjieff  felt  that,  now  or  never,  the  time  was  come  for  action  if 
he  wished  to  save  his  life.  He  seems  to  have  argued  to  himself 
that  if  a  successful  attack  could  be  made  upon  the  small  British 


INTERNAL  HISTORY  OF  LHASA  1902-4       223 

garrison  at  Chang-lo,  time  would  be  gained  and  his  policy  justi- 
fied, for  the  moment  at  least.  On  the  other  hand,  if  such  an  at- 
tack were  unsuccessful  his  own  liberty  and  even  his  own  life 
would  be  in  danger ;  he  therefore  planned  and  ordered  the  attack 
on  the  Mission  post  on  May  5th,  and  straightway  fled  the  coun- 
try, posting  north  along  the  Sining  highway,  and  ultimately 
branching  off  along  the  Urga  road.* 

About  this  time  the  Tsarong  Depen  asked  that  troops  should 
be  sent  to  Nagartse  to  oppose  the  advance  of  the  British  troops. 
He  especially  objected,  it  is  said,  to  the  English  habit  of  taking 
photographs.  The  Paro  Penlop  in  Bhutan  was  stealthily  ap- 
proached by  the  Dalai  Lama  at  the  same  time  with  the  object  of 
inducing  the  Bhutanese,  in  the  absence  of  the  Tongsa  Penlop,  to 
destroy  the  British  lines  of  communication,^  and  a  second  mes- 
senger was  sent  in  haste  to  Russia  as  the  former  envoy  had  not 
returned. 

High  ofilicials  now  began  to  talk  among  themselves  almost 
without  concealment  of  the  foolishness  of  the  Dalai  Lama,  but 
no  one  dared  to  say  much  to  him.  The  news  that  Russia  was  get- 
ting the  worst  of  it  in  Korea  had  reached  Tibet.  A  report  of  the 
fight  on  the  Karo  la  was  received  with  consternation  in  Lhasa, 
but  the  Grand  Lama  merely  observed  that  it  was  time  to  send 
forward  the  Golden  Army  ^  and,  if  necessary,  all  the  male  inhabi- 
tants of  Lhasa  also.  The  rumor  that  Gyantse  jong  had  been 
retaken  and  the  British  garrison  there  exterminated  to  a  man 
helped  to  restore  public  confidence  a  little,  and  about  the  same 
time  a  letter  of  sympathy  came  from  Bhutan  causing  dispropor- 
tionate satisfaction.    It  is  significant  that  the  Chinese  Amban  re- 

^  Rumors  of  a  subsequent  meeting  between  himself  and  the  Dalai  Lama  have 
as  yet  no  confirmation,  but  it  is  not  improbable  that  at  Urga  or  some  similar 
place  the  two  men  have  since  met. 

'  The  Paro  Penlop  ranks  second,  and  consistently  opposed  the  Anglophile 
tendencies  of  the  Tongsa  Penlop.     He  is,  however,  now  discredited. 

'  This  is  the  monkish  reserve  which  supplies  a  personal  escort  to  the  Dalai 
Lama.    It  is  often  loosely  used  to  describe  the  fighting  lamas  as  a  whole. 


224  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

fused  to  believe  in  the  killing  of  even  a  couple  of  Chinese  at  Dzara 
during  the  Karo  la  fight,  pointing  out  that  the  English  had  not 
killed  one  of  his  countrymen  throughout  the  expedition,  and 
bluntly  declaring  his  belief  that  these  two  had  been  assassinated 
there  by  Tibetans. 

Such,  then,  was  the  position  until  the  middle  of  July,  when  the 
Dalai  Lama  heard  that  Gyantse  Jong  had  been  again  recaptured 
and  that  the  English  were  on  the  point  of  starting  for  Lhasa.  He 
lost  no  time.  Disguised  in  the  plain  dirty  crimson  of  a  common 
monk  the  mortal  body  of  Tubdan  Gyatso  fled  away  from  his  an- 
cient residence  and  hallowed  cathedral  in  Lhasa,  carrying  within 
him  the  incarnate  soul  of  Avalokiteswara.  He  set  his  golden 
feet  along  the  Nakchu-ka  road  and  never  looked  back  till  he  was 
eight  days'  journey  from  the  capital.  With  him  went  the  Chief 
Magician,  he  who  many  years  ago  had  helped  to  place  Tubdan 
upon  the  throne,  and  in  later  years  had  foretold  only  too  truly 
that  the  "  year  of  the  wood  dragon  "  (i.e.,  1904)  would  spell  dis- 
aster for  Tibet.  These  two  men  at  the  present  moment  are  at 
Urga,  where  a  religious  jehad  is  being  organized,  and  it  is  quite 
clear  that  no  finality  in  our  relations  with  Tibet  can  be  secured 
until  they  are  persuaded  of  the  foolishness  of  opposing  the  rights 
of  India,  or  until,  as  is  far  more  likely,  they  have  been  quietly 
put  out  of  the  way  by  the  hierarchs  whose  ancient  regime  they 
have  so  rudely  offended. 

As  to  the  negotiations  which  we  had  so  far  vainly  endeavored 
to  begin,  it  should  be  remembered  that  the  terms  which  Colonel 
Younghusband  was  instructed  to  demand  from  the  Tibetans  were 
in  themselves  neither  burdensome  nor  indeed  as  heavy  as  we  had 
a  right  to  demand.  Briefly  stated,  they  included  a  demand  that 
the  frontier  should  be  rectified,  that  an  indemnity  should  be  paid 
of  an  amount  and  in  a  manner  to  be  subsequently  decided,  that 
foreign  political  influence  should  be  totally  excluded  from  Tibet, 
and  that  no  concessions  for  mines,  railways,  or  telegraphs  should 


INTERNAL  HISTORY  OF  LHASA  1902-4       225 

be  granted  without  the  knowledge  and  the  assent  of  the  Indian 
Government.  Trade  markets  were  to  be  estabhshed  at  Gyantse 
and  Gartok,  a  place  far  on  the  road  from  Shigatse  to  Leh,  and 
another  clause  permitted  trade  from  India  to  pass  freely  along 
any  existing  highway  of  commerce.  A  Resident  in  Gyantse  was 
to  be  appointed,  but  no  representative  of  British  interests,  po- 
litical or  commercial,  was  to  be  posted  at  Lhasa,  As  a  guar- 
antee for  the  payment  of  the  indemnity  the  Chumbi  Valley 
was  to  be  occupied  by  the  British.  The  suzerainty  of  the 
Chinese  was  frankly  recognized  throughout  the  document,  and 
it  need  hardly  be  said  that  Russia  was  not  referred  to.  Colo- 
nel Younghusband  had  frankly  expressed  his  opinion  that  it 
would  be  cheaper  and  more  effectual  in  the  long  run  to  have 
a  Resident  in  Lhasa,  and  if  the  Government  had  not  com- 
mitted themselves  to  an  opposite  policy  by  their  promises  to  Rus- 
sia it  is  possible  that  this  suggestion,  which  to  some  extent 
commended  itself  to  Lord  Curzon  also,  might  have  been  adopted. 
We  shall  see  later  the  actual  course  of  negotiations  and  the  form 
which  this  treaty  eventually  assumed.  For  the  moment  it  is  only 
necessary  to  remember  that  Lord  Curzon's  absence  from  India  on 
leave  from  the  end  of  April  to  the  beginning  of  December  placed 
him  somewhat  at  a  disadvantage.  He  has,  however,  in  the  fullest 
manner,  acknowledged  his  indebtedness  to  Lord  Ampthill,  Gov- 
ernor of  Madras  and  acting  Viceroy  of  India  during  Lord  Cur- 
zon's furlough,  for  the  steady  way  in  which  the  policy,  which  had 
been  begun  and  shaped  by  himself,  was  consistently  pressed  for- 
ward by  his  successor.  The  latter,  who  was  thus  in  office  during 
the  actual  advance  to  Lhasa  and  the  signing  of  the  treaty,  is  a 
man  of  capacity  far  beyond  his  years.  Difficult  as  his  position 
was — and  the  difficulty  was  added  to  by  the  ultimate  uncertainty 
prevailing  as  to  the  length  of  his  tenure  of  office* — it  was  uni- 

*Lord  Curzon's  return  to  India  was  indefinitely  delayed  owing  to  Lady 
Curzon's  sudden  illness.     She  had  been  ailing  for  some  time.     On  the  2ist  of 


226  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

versally  recognized  that  he  had  dealt  with  a  new  and  increasingly 
difficult  situation  with  firmness  and  restraint,  and  the  Home  Gov- 
ernment regarded  themselves  as  under  a  deep  obligation  to  him. 

One  advantage  of  the  sending  of  the  expedition  has  been,  as 
Lord  Curzon  is  probably  very  well  aware,  that  public  attention  has 
now  been  definitely  drawn  to  a  matter  which  had  been  allowed  to 
be  shelved  almost  too  long.  However  much  some  of  the  less  re- 
sponsible members  of  the  Opposition  in  England  may  regret  it, 
it  cannot  again  seriously  be  contended  by  them  that  our  position 
on  the  northern  frontier  of  India  was  this  time  safe.  I  have  re- 
ferred to  the  warnings  that  reached  Lord  Curzon  of  the  gradual 
insinuation  of  Russian  influence  at  Lhasa,  and  the  expedition 
proved  conclusively  that  those  rumors  considerably  underesti- 
mated the  importance  of  the  occasion.  There  is  no  reason  in  the 
world  why  Russia  should  not  obtain  a  predominating  influence  in 
Lhasa  except  the  plain  one  that  it  is  incompatible  with  our  own 
clearly  recognized  interests.  If  such  a  consideration  is  held  not 
to  have  justified  the  sending  of  the  Mission,  there  is  little  more 
to  be  said,  but  to  those  who  recognize  the  importance  of  safe- 
guarding our  Indian  frontiers  without  possibility  of  mistake,  a 
few  more  considerations  as  to  the  policy  to  be  observed  in  the  fu- 
ture with  regard  to  Tibet  may  here  be  offered. 

To  begin  with,  we  have  discovered  for  the  first  time  the  true 
nature  of  southern  Tibet.  It  is  far  from  resembling  the  dreary 
waterless  deserts  of  the  north,  so  well  described  by  Sven  Hedin 
and  others,  and  it  must  also  be  admitted  that  it  in  no  way  sub- 
stantiates the  impression  left  upon  the  mind  by  the  reports  sent 
in  by  the  secret  surveyors.     Apart  from  the  fact  that  the  native 

September  she  developed  peritonitis  of  an  aggravated  and  complicated  kind. 
For  three  weeks  she  lay  in  Walmer  Castle  between  life  and  death,  and  few 
indeed  of  those  who  watched  the  struggle  day  by  day  had  any  hopes  that  she 
could  ^ultimately  throw  off  the  disease.  However,  to  the  sincere  relief  of 
every  one  who  had  at  heart  the  best  interests  of  India,  Lord  Curzon,  on  the  24th 
of  November,  was  able  to  leave  her  to  continue  her  convalescence  at  Highcliflfe, 
and  returned  to  take  up  the  threads  of  his  work  at  Calcutta. 


INTERNAL  HISTORY  OF  LHASA  1902-4       227 

of  India  has  no  eye  for  the  beauties  of  nature,  and  would  as  soon 
make  a  day's  journey  across  a  desert  as  a  park,  it  must  be  remem- 
bered that  the  very  manner  in  which  these  invaluable  men  were 
obliged  to  carry  out  their  work  precluded  the  possibility  of  much 
observation.  To  go  on  walking  from  day  to  day,  intent  only 
upon  counting  every  footfall  and  faithfully  registering  the  hun- 
dreds and  the  thousands  upon  a  Tibetan  rosary,  naturally  debars 
a  traveler  from  such  observations  as  would  have  suggested  to  the 
Indian  authorities  both  the  stored-up  and  the  potential  wealth 
of  the  great  alluvial  river-flats  of  southern  Tibet. 

I  do  not  know  that  there  are  many  feats  in  the  world  of  adven- 
ture, endurance,  and  pluck  that  will  compare  favorably  with  that 
of  the  Indian  native  intrusted  with  the  work  of  secret  exploration 
in  Tibet.  In  the  first  place  it  must  be  remembered  that  to  secure 
the  brains  necessary  for  the  work  a  class  of  native  has  to  be  em- 
ployed which,  by  tradition  at  least,  is  not  the  pluckiest  in  the 
peninsula.  The  wonder  therefore  is  doubled  when  one  remembers 
the  splendid  work  of  such  men  as  Krishna  (better  known  as 
A.K.)  or  Kintup  (K.P.),  for  the  moral  courage  needed  to  persist 
in  an  enterprise  like  this  can  hardly  be  overestimated.  The  men 
employed  are  of  necessity  entirely  without  companions  and  with- 
out resources ;  they  are  engaged  upon  one  of  the  most  hazardous 
occupations  that  remain  in  the  world,  that  of  a  spy  in  a  barbarous 
country,  and  should  they  fail  for  one  minute  in  all  those  months 
and  years  of  exile,  they  know  that  no  mercy  will  be  extended  to 
them ;  and  I  think  it  but  fair  to  add  that  not  one  of  them  would 
in  any  emergency  betray  the  Government  whose  servant  he  is. 
There  is  a  known  case  of  a  man  who  actually  consented  to  be  be- 
trayed by  his  colleague  as  a  spy  in  order  that  one  at  least  of  the 
two  might  be  able  to  escape  and  bring  back  to  India  the  priceless 
notes  and  calculations  collected  during  a  year  of  travel.  For 
three  years  Kintup  was  sold  into  slavery  and  endured  it  without 
complaining. 


228  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

But  this  is  not  all ;  a  life  of  exploration,  apart  from  the  dangers 
and  hardships  of  it,  is  one  of  unremitting  toil ;  the  mere  physical 
endurance  needed  to  travel  in  this  brain-benumbing  way,  count- 
ing each  step,  hardly  daring  to  raise  the  eyes  from  the  track  at 
one's  feet  lest  a  number  should  be  missed,  or  lest  suspicion  should 
be  aroused,  is  incredible.  One  man  measured  the  length  of  the 
Ling-kor,  the  road  round  Lhasa,  by  counting  the  prostrations 
necessary,  afterward  solemnly  repeating  the  whole  process  over  a 
measured  mile.  Another  man  is  known  to  have  traveled  2,500 
miles,  counting  every  footstep  over  mountain  ranges.  Atma  Ram 
did  the  same  thing  in  one  of  Captain  Bower's  expeditions  for  a 
distance  of  2,080  miles.  Nain  Singh  counted  his  steps  from  Leh 
to  Assam — look  at  it  on  the  map.  When  the  story  of  Asian  explo- 
ration is  finally  and  worthily  written,  the  work  of  these  lonely 
spies,  twirling  incessantly  within  their  wheels  rolls  of  blank  paper 
instead  of  prayers,  which  are  laboriously  and  minutely  filled  up 
night  after  night  with  the  day's  observation,  must  receive  a  place 
of  honor  second  to  none.  Hurree  Chunder  Mookerjee  in  "  Kim  '* 
is  a  character  drawn,  I  believe,  immediately  from  the  record  of 
Krishna's  work. 

To  return  to  the  question  of  protecting  the  northern  frontier 
of  India.  It  seems  a  fair  estimate  that,  so  far  as  supplies  are 
concerned,  a  force  of  a  hundred  thousand  men  could  without  diffi- 
culty rely  upon  the  produce  of  the  luxuriant  valleys  of  the  Tsang- 
po  and  the  Nyang  chu.  It  was  no  friend  of  England's  who 
remarked  that  the  natural  frontiers  of  India  were  less  the  Hima- 
layas than  the  impenetrable  deserts  which  lie  a  hundred  miles 
north  of  Lhasa,  and  it  is  a  serious  consideration  for  us  that  if 
Russia's  influence  should  ever  predominate  in  Lhasa,  the  actual 
ground  to  be  fought  for,  diplomatically  or  otherwise,  is  that  which 
lies  across  the  barrier  formed  by  the  Himalayas.  The  advanced 
base,  whether  of  the  defending  or  of  the  encroaching  force,  must 
lie  in  these  valleys.    If  the  fertile  fields  of  southern  Tibet  cannot 


INTERNAL  HISTORY  OF  LHASA  1902-4       229 

enter  into  the  calculations  of  an  invading  nation,  that  nation  will 
have  to  rely  upon  the  trans-Siberian  railway  as  its  base,  and  I 
need  hardly  say  that  this  is  tantamount  to  ridiculing  the  whole 
danger  of  invasion  through  Tibet.  Such,  baldly  stated,  is  the 
situation. 

To  secure  immediate  access  to  this  glacis  of  granaries  is  the  ob- 
vious policy  for  the  British  Government  to  pursue,  and  it  cannot 
be  said  too  insistently  that  the  recognition  of  this  necessity  in  no 
way  whatever  involves  interference  with  the  internal  affairs  of 
Tibet.  As  to  a  protectorate,  the  very  idea  of  undertaking  respon- 
sibility for  an  additional  eighteen  hundred  miles  of  frontier  is 
ridiculous.  This,  however,  is  a  different  matter.  To  secure  this 
advantage  there  is  little  constructive  work  needed.  An  alterna- 
tive route  to  the  prohibitive  hardships  of  the  Natu  la  is  now  being 
surveyed  along  the  valleys  of  the  Di  chu  and  the  Ammo  chu.  It 
ll  is  proposed  to  push  rail-head  from  some  point  on  the  line  in  the 
neighborhood  of  Dam  dim  as  far  up  the  lower  slopes  of  the  Hima- 
layas as  is  feasible  without  a  rack;  and  then  to  construct  a  cart- 
road,  with  an  easy  gradient,  along  the  valley  to  the  head  waters 
of  the  Di  chu,  crossing  into  Bhutanese  territory  near  Jong-sa,  and 
at  a  height  of  9,000  feet,  overpassing  at  its  lowest  point  the  great 
mountain  wall  which  here  hems  in  the  right  bank  of  the  Ammo 
chu.  From  this  height  there  is  almost  a  level  run  into  Rinchen- 
gong.  Once  in  the  Chumbi  Valley  the  difficulties  of  a  second  ex- 
pedition will  have  been  largely  overcome,  for  even  as  this  work 
is  published  the  road  from  Rinchen-gong  to  Kamparab  is  re- 
ceiving the  last  touches  from  the  engineers  who  have  worked  on 
it  so  long.  From  Kamparab  there  is  a  level  natural  road  which 
has  been  steadily  used  throughout  the  present  expedition  for 
wheeled  traffic  as  far  as  Kang-ma.  The  road  is  practicable  for 
carts  for  a  few  miles  further  still,  and  the  construction  of  the  road 
I  have  mentioned  over  the  Jong-sa  la  would  enable  stores,  un- 
loaded at  rail-head,  to  be  carried,  without  bulk  broken,  on  wheeled 


230  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

carts  to  within  thirty  miles  of  Gyantse  itself.  It  is  hardly  neces- 
sary to  comment  upon  this.  We  have,  I  repeat,  no  wish  in  the 
world  to  interfere  with  Tibet  so  long  as  Tibet  does  not  imperil 
our  tranquillity  in  Bengal.  While  we  ourselves  seek  no  exclusive 
rights  in  the  country,  we  have  at  the  same  time  no  intention  of 
allowing  any  other  power  to  secure  them.  So  long  as  the  Tibe- 
tans cordially  co-operate  with  ourselves  in  excluding  foreign  po- 
litical influence,  so  long  will  we  assist  them  to  the  best  of  our 
power  by  doubling  the  existing  barriers  along  the  common  fron- 
tier. But  it  must  be  patent  to  the  shallowest  that  the  simple  lay- 
ing of  this  road  will  in  future  put  us  in  a  position  to  insist,  should 
our  friendliness  be  insufficient  to  win  the  loyalty  and  good  faith 
of  the  hierarchy  of  Lhasa.  It  is  but  bare  justice  to  credit  Captain 
O'Connor  with  the  original  suggestion  of  its  construction  in  any 
practicable  form. 

Inseparable  from  this  cart-road  is  the  question  of  trade.  Else- 
where I  have  referred  to  the  staple  products  of  the  country.  On 
our  side  it  seems  clear  that  tea  is  beyond  all  competition  the  chief 
export  from  India  which  the  Tibetans  would  buy  profusely  and 
with  gratitude  should  the  opportunity  be  fairly  presented  to  them. 
But  a  curious  and  unfortunately  not  an  extraordinary  thing  is 
the  unwillingness  of  the  Darjeeling  tea-planters  to  recognize  the 
real  necessities  of  the  case.  They  are  ready  to  supply  their  ordi- 
nary tea  in  its  ordinary  form  to  any  extent,  but  they  seem  quite 
unwilling  to  manufacture  the  tea  in  that  shape  in  which  alone  the 
Tibetans  recognize  the  article.  I  believe  that  after  some  pressure 
the  institute  of  planters  in  the  Darjeeling  district  have  sent  two 
men  to  the  Chinese  tea  fields  to  learn  the  method  of  making  bricks 
of  tea,  such  as  the  Tibetans  require,  but  it  seems  strange  that  it 
should  have  required  an  expedition  to  teach  them  such  an  obvious 
act  of  commercial  prudence. 

This,  then,  is  in  brief  the  truth  about  our  future  relations  with 
Tibet,  and  in  whatever  terms  the  treaty  now  signed  may  eventu- 


INTERNAL  HISTORY  OF  LHASA  1902-4       231 

ally  be  ratified,  the  fact  remains  unalterable,  that  by  the  simple 
construction  of  a  road  the  northern  frontier  of  India  can  now  be 
safeguarded  at  an  expense  which  is  ridiculously  small  in  compari- 
son with  the  millions  lavished  on  the  north-west,  and  one  which 
by  sheer  encouragement  of  trade  will  be  recouped  within  ten 
years.  Roads  are  the  great  pioneers  of  peace,  and  those  who 
know  their  north-west  frontier  best  will  be  the  first  to  admit  the 
almost  instant  result  of  their  construction  even  in  the  most  hos- 
tile districts.  But  the  matter  may  safely  be  left  in  the  hands  of 
Lord  Curzon. 


CHAPTER  XIII 

LAMAISM 

NO  account  of  an  expedition  to  Lhasa  would  be  complete 
without  some  reference  to  the  technical  side  of  the  religion 
of  the  country.  I  have  before  referred  to  its  application  to  the 
people  and  the  effect  it  produces  upon  their  life,  but  a  certain 
amount  of  information  as  to  the  ecclesiastical  aspect  of  Lamaism 
is  necessary  to  a  full  understanding  of  the  real  position  which 
Buddhism  occupies  in  Central  Asia.  I  have  no  intention  of 
wearying  the  reader  with  minute  formulae,  but  the  spirit  which 
underlies  this  Buddhism  is  worthy  of  some  study. 

The  origin  of  Buddhism  in  Tibet  is  explained  by  the  Tibetans 
themselves  in  a  somewhat  amusing  way.  It  is  said  that  in  old 
days  Tibet  was  a  country  of  ravines  and  mountain  tops  and  tor- 
rents, varied  by  huge  lakes.  Buddha  in  person  then  visited  the 
land,  and  found  that  the  inhabitants  were  monkeys.  He  ques- 
tioned the  monkeys  and  asked  them  why  they  were  not  men  and 
good  Buddhists.  They  answered,  not  without  reason,  that  with 
the  country  in  its  existing  state  there  was  no  opportunity  for  the 
development  of  their  own  bodies,  let  alone  their  religious  im- 
pulses. To  this  Buddha  replied :  "  If  you  will  promise  to  become 
men  and  good  Buddhists  I  will  give  you  a  good  and  fertile  land 
to  live  in."  The  agreement  having  been  struck,  Buddha  there 
and  then  drained  off  the  waters  from  the  land  which  is  now 
known  as  the  plain  of  Gyantse  by  an  underground  channel 
through  the  Himalayas  into  the  Ganges  near  Gaya.    The  Tibetans 

232 


LAMAISM  22,z 

on  their  side  kept  their  promise,  and  though  of  course  they  knew 
not  Darwin,  became  both  men  and,  as  they  assert,  good  Buddhists. 

As  a  matter  of  fact,  the  moment  at  which  Buddhism  became  the 
established  religion  of  Tibet  can  be  ascertained  with  some  ap- 
proach to  certainty.  The  Tibetan  King  Srong-tsan-gambo,  to 
whom  reference  has  been  made  in  the  first  chapter,  must  have 
been  a  man  of  considerable  foresight.  It  is  not  in  the  least  likely 
that  it  was  the  influence  of  his  two  wives,  one  of  whom  was  a 
Chinese,  and  the  other  a  Nepalese  princess,  which  decided  him  to 
adopt  Buddhism  as  the  religion  of  his  country,  though  both  of 
them  may  have  helped  to  strengthen  him  in  his  intention.  The 
truth  is  that  he  recognized  the  enormous  value  which  would  at- 
tach to  the  identification  of  Buddhism  with  his  new  capital.  In 
India,  as  he  saw  clearly  enough.  Buddhism  was  being  driven 
headlong  before  the  re-encroaching  tides  of  Hinduism.  Had 
Buddhism  remained  a  living  force  in  India,  no  other  place  in  Asia 
could  have  attempted  to  compete  in  local  religious  importance 
with,  say,  Gaya.  But  when  Buddhism  became  an  exile  from  the 
land  of  its  birth,  Srong-tsan-gambo  made  use  of  his  opportunity. 
He  recognized  both  the  importance  of  having  its  central  authority 
located  in  Lhasa,  and  the  peculiar  suitability  of  that  place  to  his 
aims.  In  the  seventh  century,  therefore,  the  official  metropolis  of 
Buddhism  was  transferred  from  the  plains  of  Northern  India  to 
the  mountain  fastnesses  of  Tibet,  and  here  in  a  couple  of  centuries 
the  new  religion  established  itself  in  the  mystic  and  fascinating 
seclusion  which  veils  it  to  this  day. 

This  King  of  Tibet  sent  to  India  for  learned  Buddhist  fathers, 
and,  with  the  unquestioned  autocracy  of  an  Oriental  tyrant,  he 
imposed  the  new  faith  upon  his  people.  There  are  few  relics,  ex- 
cept, perhaps,  in  the  cathedral  of  Lhasa  itself,  of  this  primeval 
state  of  Lamaism,  but  that  it  underlies  and  was  the  founda- 
tion of  all  that  we  now  see  is  beyond  doubt.  The  Buddhism 
which  was  first  introduced  into  Tibet  was  of  the  ampler  form 


234  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

taught  by  the  school  of  Asanga.  It  was  in  its  original  state  the 
"  greater  vehicle,"  without  any  other  accretions  than  those  which 
Asanga's  opportunism  compelled  him  to  adopt  from  the  Hindu 
ritual  and  mythology.  But,  as  I  have  said  before,  the  present  con- 
dition of  Lamaism  is  such  that  Buddha  himself  would  hardly 
recognize  a  phase  or  a  phrase  of  it.  The  interesting  part  of  this 
development  is  that  it  has  been  going  on  without  any  outside  In- 
terference whatever.  Secured  by  their  geographical  position, 
securer  still  by  their  overweening  pride  in  the  sacro-sanctity  of 
their  capital  and  the  learning  of  their  doctors,  the  Tibetans  devel- 
oped Lamaism  along  lines  which  betray  no  foreign  influence.  But 
this  does  not  imply  that  the  new  religion  was  not  severely  tested 
and  tried.  There  were  molding  forces  enough  in  the  religious 
party  strife  to  distribute  countless  lines  of  cleavage  through  the 
fibers  of  the  parent  Buddhist  stock.  From  the  first  the  difficulty 
of  communications  in  this  country  and  the  laxity  which  neces- 
sarily followed  when  the  strong  hand  of  an  autocratic  monarchy 
slackened,  produced  a  large  number  of  special  and  local  develop- 
ments of  the  Buddhist  faith.  It  would  be  tedious  to  do  more  than 
note  again  that  the  first  universal  supremacy  of  any  church  in 
Tibet  was  that  created  by  Kublai  Khan  in  the  middle  of  the  thir- 
teenth century,  when  he  recognized  the  spiritual  autocracy  of 
the  Grand  Lama  of  the  Sakya  Monastery. 

Sakya  lies  well  to  the  south  of  Tashi-lhunpo,  far  from  the  influ- 
ences of  Lhasa,  and  here  the  Red  Cap  faction  flourished  exceed- 
ingly. There  is  a  legend  in  connection  with  Kublai  Khan's  action 
which  is  credible  enough.  In  wide  sympathy  with  all  forms  of 
religious  endeavor,  Kublai  Khan  determined  to  put  the  claims  of 
the  various  creeds  to  ^  practical  test ;  none  was  excluded.  A  cer- 
tain miracle — it  was  the  levitation  of  a  wine  cup  from  the  table 
to  the  Emperor's  lips— was  to  be  performed  if  possible  by  the 
representatives  of  the  different  creeds.  Those  championing  the 
Christian  faith  were  perhaps  unwise  in  accepting  this  challenge 


CO 

O 
in 

I 

Di 

> 
<! 


CO 

W 

m 

w 

< 
Pi 
Pi 
w 

H 


O 

o 

I— i 

o 


LAMAISM  235 

to  make  a  public  advertisement  of  supernatural  powers.  The 
lamas,  on  their  side,  no  doubt,  took  private  and  material  means 
to  secure  the  success  of  their  own  incantations,  and  the  failure 
of  the  Christians  to  achieve  the  marvel  put  the  coping-stone  to 
the  strength  of  Buddhism  in  Central  Asia. 

It  is  not  unlikely  that  the  supernatural  powers  claimed  to  this 
day  among  certain  sections  of  the  lamas  had  their  origin  in  this 
curious  legend.  Madame  Blavatsky  has  drawn  attention  to  these 
claims,  and  it  may  be  doubted  whether  much  popular  enthusiasm 
would  ever  have  been  displayed  for  the  shadowy  tenets  of  The- 
osophy  if  it  had  not  been  for  these  attractive  suggestions.  Per- 
sonally, I  only  once  came  in  contact  with  a  lama  who  made,  or 
had  made  for  him,  a  definite  claim  to  supernatural  power.  Nyen- 
de-kyi-buk  is  from  time  to  time  called  upon  to  produce  lamas  of 
unusual  sanctity.  They  are  always  forthcoming.  These  men 
have  their  spiritual  capacity  proved  by  their  ability  to  pass  certain 
tests,  of  which  several  were  described  to  me.  The  first  thing  to 
be  proved  is  their  capacity  to  transmit  their  personality  in  a  visible 
form  to  Lhasa,  Gyantse,  and  Tashi-lhunpo  within  the  space  of  a 
few  seconds.  Another  and  probably  a  more  difficult  feat  upon 
which  to  satisfy  their  examiners  consists  in  their  ability  to  crawl 
through  the  keyhole  of  their  locked  cell.  The  Abbot  of  Nyen-de- 
kyi-buk  had  successfully  passed  these  tests,  but  one  felt  that  the 
rules  of  courtesy  forbade  one  from  making  any  direct  request  that 
he  should  repeat  on  the  spot  even  the  simplest  of  his  miracles. 
But  supernatural  powers  are,  of  course,  claimed  in  a  very  definite 
manner  by  all  the  wizards  and  magicians  of  the  country,  and  also 
by  the  Dalai  Lama  and  other  high  officials. 

It  is  perhaps  unfair  to  class  the  pretense  of  the  magigian  to 
keep  off  hail  from  the  crops  by  his  prayers  as  an  illustration  of 
witchcraft,  for  a  not  dissimilar  claim  is  implied  even  in  Christian 
services ;  but  it  would  be  difficult  to  find  a  hard  and  fast  point  at 
which  to  draw  a  dividing  line  between  such  a  pretension  as  this 


236  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

and  that  which  underlies  the  claims  of  the  austerer  members  of 
the  Red-cap  faction  to  the  supernatural  powers  to  which  I  have 
just  referred.  The  earlier  teachers  of  Lamaism  are  undoubtedly 
credited  with  curious  non-human  capacities,  and  the  manner  in 
which  these  mighty  men  of  old  encountered  and  defeated  the  ob- 
stacles devised  by  their  enemies,  or  put  in  their  path  by  the  con- 
ditions of  nature,  is  probably  the  basis  of  the  Theosophist  con- 
tention. 

I  have  been  at  some  pains  to  ascertain  the  origin  of  this  belief, 
which  Madame  Blavatsky  has  been  perhaps  chiefly  responsible 
for  spreading.  The  following  most  learned  teachers  may  be 
quoted  here  as  having  been  the  source  of  much  of  her  doctrine : 

1.  Nub-chen-nam-kar-ning-po.—A  Red-cap  Lama,  who  trans- 
ported himself  at  will  through  the  air. 

2.  Niih-chen-sang-gyi-ye-she. — This  man  had  even  dared  to 
see  Shin-je  himself,  the  god  of  Hell.  He  was  also  able  to  split 
rocks  with  a  stroke  of  his  purbu. 

3.  Nal-jor-gyal-wa-chok-yung. — A  mighty  teacher  of  the 
Red-cap  school. 

4.  Khan-dro-ye-she-tso-gyal. — A  woman  disciple  of  the  Guru 
Rinpoche.    She  exercised  supernatural  powers. 

5.  Dog-mi-pal-gi-ye-she. — He  meditated  on  a  snow-field  with 
such  success  that  the  welfare  and  the  misery  of  the  world  alike 
were  visible  to  him,  and  he  was  obeyed  by  the  goddesses  them- 
selves. 

6.  Nyak-chen-ye-she-scheun-nu.—A  Lama  of  the  Red-cap 
sect,  who  obtained  water  from  a  rock  in  the  desert  by  touching 
it  with  his  finger. 

7.  Tub-chen-pal-gyi-sing-ge. — A  Bhutanese,  whom  the  gods 
and  goddesses  were  compelled  to  obey. 

8.  N ga-dag-cho-gyal. — This  Lama  lived  at  Samye.  He  lived 
without  eating  and  made  himself  invisible  at  will. 


LAMAISM  237 

9.  Nal-jor-wang-chuk-chempo. — A  pupil  of  the  Guru  Rin- 
poche,  of  great  but  unspecified  supernatural  powers. 

10.  Na-nam-dor-je-dud-jom. — A  pupil  of  the  Guru  Rinpoche, 
who  could  project  himself  through  the  air. 

11.  Ba-mi-ye-she.—A  pupil  of  the  Guru  Rinpoche.  This 
man,  like  Enoch,  passed  into  Nirvana  without  going  through 
the  pains  of  death. 

12.  Sok-po-lha-pal. — This  man,  the  fourth  of  the  Guru's 
great  disciples,  had  the  power  of  killing  a  tiger  by  touching 
its  neck  with  his  hands. 

13.  Na-nang-ye-she. — This  Lama  was  learned  enough  to  be 
able  to  fly  through  the  air  like  a  bird, 

14.  Khar-chen-pal-gyi-wong-chuk, — This  great  interpreter  of 
Khar-chen  wrought  wonders  with  his  purbu. 

15.  Shu-po-pal-ki-sing-ge. — A  Tibetan  "doctor,"  who  con- 
trolled the  sea. 

16.  Ko-wa-pal-tse. — A  Hindu.  His  supernatural  gifts  are  not 
specified. 

17.  Na-jal-den-ma-tse-mang.—K  Hindu  magician  of  the  Red- 
cap school. 

18.  Gyal-wo-lo-deu.—A  Hindu  pundit  (who  brought  brass 
images  to  life!). 

19.  Kyu-chung.—A  youthful  Hindu  interpreter,  who  spoke 
the  language  of  birds. 

20.  Kun-chok-jang-ne.—A  Hindu  pundit  who  controlled  the 
elements. 

21.  Nal-joy-pal-gyi-dor-je. — This  man  was  able  to  walk  as 
easily  over  precipices  as  over  the  ground. 

22.  Lo-che-ma-thog-rin-chen.— With  his  magical  powers  he 
was  able  to  tear  off  great  boulders  from  the  mountain  side  and 
crush  them  to  powder  in  his  hands. 

23.  Wo-den-pal-gyi-wang-chuk.— This  teacher  could  swim 
through  water  as  quickly  and  as  easily  as  a  fish. 


238  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

24.  Nal-jor-den-pa-nam-khe. — This  great  Lama  was  so 
skilled  in  magic  lore  that  he  could  catch  by  the  ear  even  the 
"flesh-licking"  bison.  (This  is  the  repeated  statement  of  a 
Tibetan  lama,  but  if  the  yak  is  intended,  it  neither  "  licks  flesh  " 
nor  much  minds  being  held  by  the  ear.) 

25.  Dub-chen-gyal-wo-chang-chub.— While  meditating  he 
was  levitated  into  the  air  and  so  remained. 

I  have  given  these  uncouth  names  in  ordef  to  place  upon  a 
proper  footing  the  supernatural  claims  of  theosophists  for  Tibe- 
tan Lamaism.  I  have  myself  no  doubt  that,  in  these  traditions 
lies  the  origin  of  many  of  their  beliefs,  and  I  am  glad  to  provide 
such  material  for  acquiescence  or  argument  as  these  supply.^ 

The  word  Mahatma  is  not  known  in  Tibet,  and,  though  he 
must  know  little  of  the  East  who  will  definitely  say  that  any 
apparent  variation  therein  of  the  ordinary  course  of  nature, 
whether  due  to  hypnotism  or  not,  is  incredible,  I  do  not  think, 
on  the  whole,  that  any  particular  occult  knowledge  will  come  to 
us  from  Tibet.  Formulae  and  details  of  ritual  we  did  indeed 
find  in  overwhelming  numbers,  and  the  credulity  and  superstition 
of  the  common  people  may  once  have  suggested  that  there  really 
is  something  in  these  claims  to  theurgy,  but  the  success  with 
which  a  monotoned  imprecation  impresses  a  crowd  of  worship- 
ers in  a  Tibetan  gompa  is,  we  found,  due  merely  to  the  policy 
of  extinguishing  knowledge  which  the  lamas  have  adopted. 

To  return  to  the  history  of  the  Church,  Buddhism,  in  its 
earliest  shape,  was  an  agnostic  rather  than  an  atheistic  form  of 
religion.  Buddha's  scheme  of  retribution  implies  a  belief  in  a 
First  Cause,  but  when  on  a  certain  occasion  he  was  asked  to  ex- 
press an  opinion  upon  the  validity  or  otherwise  of  the  traditional 

*  This  list  is,  I  believe,  a  complete  one  of  all  the  "red  letter"  doctors  of 
the  Lamaic  Church  who  wrought  miracles.  It  is  included  in  the  full  "  ong 
kur-wa"  or  "  power-sendingj"  equipment  of  a  Lamaic  wizard. 


LAMAISM  239 

deities  known  to  Asia,  he  declined  to  admit  the  necessity  of  a 
categorical  answer.  He  may  have  thought  that  it  was  convenient 
for  common  people  of  low  intelligence,  whose  minds  could  only 
grasp  a  truth  objectively,  to  have  some  external  and  tangible 
crystallization  of  truths,  however  far  they  might  be  from  that 
which  he  saw.  More  than  that  cannot,  I  think,  be  found  in  the 
earliest  form  of  Buddhism.  There  were,  however,  few  even 
among  the  earliest  Buddhists  who  were  strong  enough  to  drink 
this  pure  milk  of  the  Word,  and  we  find  that  even  before  Asanga 
had  fused  the  two  creeds.  Buddhism  was  peopled  with  many 
semi-deities. 

After  the  "  Buddhas  "  and  the  Bodisats — a  large  class,  consist- 
ing of  those  who  have,  so  to  speak,  qualified  themselves  to  be 
Buddhas,  but  whose  self-denial  has  not  yet  and  may  never  be 
called  upon — there  is  a  class  of  divinity  which  is  very  strikingly 
prominent  in  Tibet.  These  are  the  tutelary  or  guardian  deities, 
chiefly  of  the  "  Towo  "  or  "  terrible  "  aspect.  These  were  the 
original  gods  of  the  country,  and  after  Buddha,  who  is  always 
conceived  as  having  made  a  personal  mission  tour  through  the 
land,  had  converted  these  hideous  human  monsters  to  his  own 
austerer  faith,  he  permitted  them  to  retain  their  aspect  and  even 
their  powers  of  doing  harm,  in  order,  as  he  said,  that  they  might 
defend  the  faith  and  the  chosen  people  from  outside rattack.  This 
retention  has  had  a  natural  result.  There  is  no  .doubt  that  the 
inclusion  of  these  "  terrible  "  guardians  in  the  Lamaic  Pantheon 
has  been  the  chief  cause  of  the  people  remaining  at  heart  devil- 
worshipers.  We  can  imagine  that  at  first  the  apostles  of  Bud- 
dhism found  their  work  considerably  smoothed  for  them  by  ac- 
cepting the  devil-gods  of  the  aboriginal  inhabitants.  In  this  they 
after  all  only  carried  out  Asanga's  own  policy  in  India,  but  the 
result,  which  they  might  have  foreseen,  has  been  that,  except  for 
the  external  veneer  of  Buddhism,  devil-worship  has  absorbed  its 
conqueror. 


240  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

These  terrible  deities  are  the  gods  of  the  common  people  of 
Tibet.  The  mild-eyed  Buddha  is  to  them  only  a  vague  means 
of  escape  from  the  tyranny  of  these  loathsome  and  misshapen 
monsters,  aureoled  with  the  fire  of  hell,  who  with  dripping  fangs 
and  beastly  deformities  are  far  more  present  and  practical  than 
the  master.  They  are  placed,  naturally  enough,  at  the  gates  and 
in  the  forecourts  of  temples,  either  in  actual  carved  shape,  or, 
as  is  far  more  common,  painted  upon  the  walls.  Upon  these  the 
eye  of  the  passer-by  rests,  and  it  is  probable  that  he  rarely  asks 
for  any  higher  sanction  for  his  religious  duties  than  that  which 
they  afford.  They  terrify  him  into  obedience  to  his  lama,  and 
that  is  all  that  the  lama  requires.  For  an  adequate  conception 
of  the  real  effect  of  Lamaism  upon  the  Tibetans,  it  is  hardly 
necessary  to  go  higher  up  in  the  scale  than  these  tutelary  deities. 

Vaguely  known  to  the  common  Tibetans  by  their  colored  fig- 
ures upon  wayside  rocks  are  such  semi-deities  as  Dolma,  in  her 
three  hues  of  green,  red,  and  white,  and  in  the  same  class  may 
perhaps  be  placed  the  eight  ladies  in  whom  Colonel  Waddell 
recognizes  aboriginal  deities  adopted  en  bloc  by  the  incoming 
Buddhists.  They  are  of  comely  complexion,  and  certainly  do 
-not  look  as  if  butter  would  melt  in  their  mouths.  This,  however, 
is  not  the  case  if  the  fearsome  tales  which  were  told  to  me  by 
one  of  our  interpreter  lamas  have  any  foundation  in  fact.  They 
are  probably  merely  the  spouses  of  the  male  tutelary  deities,  and 
•derive  any  importance  they  may  possess  from  the  reflection  of 
their  consorts'  terrors.  A  very  common  figure  in  wall  paintings 
is  the  god  of  wealth.  He  is  represented  with  a  red  face,  and 
down  his  left  forearm  runs  the  mongoose  by  which  jewels  *  are 
fetched  from  the  center  of  the  earth.  Conventionally  there  is 
a  rank  and  degree  for  every  member  of  this  supernatural  com- 
pany; but  even  the  educated  Tibetan  is  quite  willing  to  allow 

*  Jewels  are  conventionally  represented  in  Tibetan  art 
like  turnips  of  different  colors. 


LAMAISM  241 

these  complications  of  mythology  to  be  understanded  of  the 
priests  alone,  and  it  is  practically  sufficient  for  the  traveler  to 
recognize  at  sight  the  four  terrible  guardian  deities  of  the  four 
quarters  of  Heaven,  Tamdin,  so  called  because  of  the  horse's 
head  and  neck  which  are  always  to  be  found  in  the  flames  with 
which  his  head  is  crowned,  Shin-je,  the  god  of  Hell,  and  Pal- 
den-lhamo. 

Besides  these  are  the  mischievous  gods  which  the  lamas  use 
to  subjugate  the  common  folk — gods  of  lesser  and  local  influ- 
ence. They  are  malignant  sprites  with  strictly  limited  powers. 
They  have  a  thousand  different  shapes.  Some  are  gnomes  or 
hobgoblins,  creeping  and  peeping  among  the  rocks.  Some  are 
gigantic  brutes  a  mile  in  height,  with  tiny  mouths  which  pre- 
vent them  swallowing  even  the  smallest  crumb;  naturally  they 
suffer  from  hunger,  and  in  their  agonized  writhings  they  are  the 
immediate  cause  of  earthquakes.  Others  again  confine  them- 
selves to  peaks  and  passes — the  noi-jins  ^  are  of  this  class.  They 
do  not,  however,  do  much  harm  to  mankind  except  that  of  course 
avalanches  are  their  work,  and  they  seem  also  to  be  responsible 
for  breathing  out  what  the  Tibetans  call  la-druk—"  the  poison 
of  the  pass."  This,  of  course,  is  merely  the  attenuated  air  which 
even  in  the  hardiest  Tibetan  will  bring  on  mountain  sickness  and 
nausea.  Then  there  are  imps  who  hide  themselves  during  the 
-day  and  come  out  and  hold  high  revels  all  the  night.  They 
ride  over  the  hills  and  plains  on  foxback,  and  if  you  hear  one  of 
these  animals  yelping  in  the  distance,  you  may  be  sure  that  it 
is  being  over-driven  and  beaten  sorely  by  one  of  these  "  lan-de." 
However,  as  the  only  whip  which  they  are  allowed  to  use  is 
the  hemlock  stalk,  the  wounds  cannot  be  very  severe. 

Every  village  and  every  district  has  its  own  particular  god, 
and  it  is  part  of  the  duties  and  the  emoluments  of  the  lamas  to 

^  The  first  word  in  Nichi-kang-sang  is  really  Noi-jin, 
but  it  is  never  so  pronounced. 


242  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

instruct  travelers  (for  a  moderate  fee)  as  to  the  deity  proper  to 
be  invoked  at  the  entrance  of  each  commune.  Fevers  and  dis- 
eases of  all  kinds  are  caused  by  minute  but  malignant  sprites. 
Thus,  when  you  see  a  rainbow,  you  may  know  that  these  in- 
finitely small  folk  are  sliding  down  it  Iris-like  to  the  water  at  its 
foot,  and  then  beware  of  that  place,  for  ague  lies  thereby.  If 
one  wished  to  put  into  a  fanciful  form  the  last  theories  at  home 
about  malaria,  this  would  be  as  pretty  a  way  of  telling  them  as 
any.  They  amuse  themselves  (here,  perhaps,  we  have  the  miss- 
ing anopheles)  by  playing  on  guitars.  Some  of  these  spirits 
live  solely  on  odors.  They  inhabit  the  air,  and  flit  like  fairies  to 
and  fro.  They  feed  upon  any  kind  of  scent  or  stench,  good  or  bad, 
and  butchers  burn  oflfal  round  their  shops  in  order  that  by  a  more 
overpowering  smell  than  that  of  their  own  wares,  these  spirits 
may  be  attracted  away.  Finally,  there  are  the  shri,  the  com- 
monest and  perhaps  the  most  dreaded  spirits  of  them  all.  It  is 
to  be  noticed  that  they  are  chiefly  dangerous  because  they  attack 
children.* 

These  spirits  really  represent  to  the  common  Tibetan  peasant 
all  the  religious  influences  that  he  knows,  and  for  him  the 
elaborate  structure  of  Lamaism  is  only  a  shield  and  defense 
against  a  very  real  terror  which  waits  for  him  a  hundred  times 
a  day  beside  his  path  and  about  his  bed.  For  the  lamas,  on  the 
other  hand,  there  is  much  in  the  ritual  of  their  church,  and  if 
they  do  not  actually  disbelieve  in  the  existence  of  these  malig- 
nant spirits,  they  feel  perfectly  secure  behind  the  protection  af- 

*  Children  are  very  well  treated  in  Tibet.  Of  course  they  are  left  unwashed, 
and  if  they  have  any  kind  of  disease  they  are  left  to  grow  out  of  it  if  it  is  so 
ordained.  The  result  of  these  two  customs  is  that  skin  disease  among  the 
children  is  unpleasantly  common.  But  they  are  well-fed,  never  ill-treated, 
and  have,  on  the  whole,  a  very  good  time.  From  the  very  beginning  they 
were  never  afraid  of  our  troops,  and  the  first  word  of  Hindustani  that  was 
learned  by  the  Tibetans  as  a  whole  was  the  "  salaam  "  which  the  three-year- 
old  mites  ran  beside  us  and  squeaked  continually.  Afterward  "  salaam  "  was 
a  well-recognized  form  for  exchanging  salutations  among  their  seniors. 


LAMAISM  243 

forded  by  their  rites  and  ceremonies.  But  for  them  an  entirely 
different  set  of  emotions  and  motives  comes  into  play.  The 
attitude  of  the  lamas  is  in  its  way  not  less  credulous  and  un- 
taught than  is  that  of  the  poorer  people,  but  the  spur  which 
drives  them  to  religious  observances  is  not  the  fear  of  earthly 
mischief,  by  whomsoever  caused ;  it  is  a  very  different  and  a  very 
interesting  goad  of  their  own  making — a  blind  horror  of  the 
consequences  of  that  reincarnation  upon  which  the  whole  fabric 
of  Lamaism  is  built.     This  is  a  most  interesting  question. 

It  is  difificult  for  a  Christian  to  realize  how  terrible  a  weapon 
this  article  of  faith  can  become.  For  him  this  world,  good  or 
bad,  is  at  least  the  last  world  in  which  things  earthly  will  affect 
him.  Of  the  next  he  knows  only  by  the  eye  of  faith,  and  the 
terror  inspired  by  the  most  material  conception  of  hell  is  un- 
questionably mitigated  by  the  fact  that  the  most  earnest  Chris- 
tian believer  cannot  really  know  what  it  is  that  awaits  the  wicked 
after  death.*  Indeed,  if  it  were  not  so,  if  there  were  no  such 
modifying  circumstance  attached  to  the  formulae  of  Christianity, 
life  for  a  devout  man  could  hardly  fail  to  be— if  on  his  own 
behalf  perhaps,  certainly  on  that  of  his  friends— an  agony  of 
pain.  This,  I  fancy,  it  rarely  is— at  least,  on  this  account. 
There  is  another  distinction  to  be  remembered.  The  human 
mind  is  notoriously  incapable  of  conceiving  the  notion  of  eter- 
nity. But  the  Oriental  can  throw  his  conceptions  forward  in 
a  vastly  greater  degree  than  the  European.  Whether  we  deny 
it  or  not,  our  conception  of  time  is  dominated  by  our  habitual 
method  of  measurement.  For  us  a  year  is  not  merely  a  conve- 
nient form  of  expression,  it  is  a  hampering  unit  from  which  we 
cannot  shake  ourselves  free.  For  a  Tibetan  the  life  is  the  unit 
of  repetition,  and  it  must  be  remembered  that  a  lifetime  is  an 

*  I  am  aware  of  the  Roman  article  "  Ignis  Inferni  est  corporeus  et  ejusdem 
speciei  cum  hoc  nostro  elementari."  But  this  statement  is  so  much  qualified 
by  the  many  supernatural  properties  claimed  for  the  flame  that  even  a  Roman 
Catholic  cannot  clearly  fix  his  conception  of  the  means  of  punishment. 


244  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

infinitely  longer  time  for  a  man  than  are  his  seventy  years.  A 
lama's  conception  of  eternity  is,  therefore,  of  a  terrible  depth 
compared  with  ours,  and,  what  is  far  more,  he  believes  from 
his  earliest  days  that  failure  on  his  part  to  acquire  merit  in  this 
world  will  result  not  in  an  instantaneous  and  irrevocable  judg- 
ment, after  which  at  least  no  action  of  his  own  can  do  him  good, 
but  in  a  never-ending  repetition  in  some  form  of  life  in  this  world 
of  the  very  same  struggle  that  he  is  now  enduring.  And  the 
ingenuity  with  which  the  lamas  have  conceived  the  lowest,  filthi- 
est and  most  obscene  envelopes  in  which  the  sentient  and  in- 
telligent human  mind  and  soul  may,  after  death,  be  re-impris- 
oned, would  do  credit  to  a  monkish  theologian  anticipating 
cases  for  the  canon  law.     Herein  lies  the  rub  of  it  all. 

The  means  of  punishment  is  ever  under  his  eye.  Here  is 
an  example.  The  ordinary  man  in  the  country  will  slip  his  outer 
garment  down  over  his  shoulders  and  spend  a  lazy  hour,  in  the 
heat  of  the  sun,  in  detecting  and  exterminating  the  almost  in- 
visible vermin  which  inhabit  his  robe.  But  to  the  lama  this  is 
forbidden,  for  there  can  never  be  an  hour  in  his  skin-tormented 
life  in  which  he  does  not  remember  that  his  loathsome  parasites 
may  have  deserved  their  present  fate  by  carelessness  in  some 
point  of  ritual  during  their  life  on  earth — nay,  that  he  may  even 
himself  be  then  awaiting  the  imminent  moment  in  which  he 
shall  join  their  creeping  company. 

If  the  reader  can  seriously  understand  that  this  is  not  a  mere 
theoretical  truth,  but  an  actual  daily  terror  to  the  educated 
classes  in  Tibet,  he  may  go  some  way  toward  understanding 
one  at  least  of  the  myriad  terrors  which  a  belief  in  the  theory 
of  reincarnation  necessitates.  If,  then,  it  is  clear  that  the  men- 
tal terrors  of  the  Tibetans,  whether  they  are  called  by  the  name 
of  superstition  or  of  religion,  have  provided  for  the  profess- 
ing Buddhists,  high  and  low  alike,  an  ample  sanction  for  the 
due  observance  of  the  rules  of  life,  it  remains  to  be  seen  what 


LAMAISM  245 

general  effect  these  rules  have  upon  the  life  and  morals  of  the 
inhabitants. 

One  thing  at  least  is  clear  in  the  case  of  nearly  every  religion 
of  importance.  The  influence  of  religion  has  in  almost  every  case 
been  used  to  inculcate  not  only  such  virtues  as  tended  to  secure 
the  material  prosperity  of  the  nation,  but  such  also  as  make 
for  the  permanence  of  society  and  the  sanitary  benefit  of  the 
members  of  the  faith.  As  an  example,  it  is  sufficient  to  point 
to  Islam.  Mahomet,  whatever  his  spiritual  deficiencies,  had  a 
keen  and  certain  eye  for  the  necessities  of  a  nation  living  in  the 
tropics,  surrounded  by  hostile  tribes  in  every  direction.  The 
trend  of  his  regulations  is  obvious  enough.  Every  line  of  the 
Koran  breathes  of  sanitation  on  earth,  and,  after  death  on  the 
field  of  battle,  of  the  hope  of  an  eternity  of  pleasure.  It  is 
easy  to  understand  why  the  devotees  of  so  straight  a  creed  have 
never  ebbed  from  their  widest  flow.  But  in  Tibet,  after  a  sanc- 
tion had  been  obtained,  which  for  strength  has  been  surpassed 
by  nothing  elsewhere  held  out  for  the  admiration  or  terror  of 
men,  we  find  that  the  religion  thereby  enforced  is  not  merely 
neglectful  of  the  development  or  even  of  the  continued  existence 
of  its  professing  members,  but  is  even  detrimental  to  it. 

Buddhists  are,  of  course,  confronted  with  the  same  difficulty 
by  which  Christians  also  are  faced.  Nothing  is  more  charac- 
teristic of  the  two  faiths  than  the  repeated  injunction  to  suffer 
injuries  meekly  and  take  no  life.  I  do  not  propose  to  discuss 
so  difficult  a  theological  compromise  as  that  at  which  the  Chris- 
tian nations  of  the  world  have  arrived  in  this  matter,  but  it  may 
be  pointed  out  that  Buddhists  must  again  and  again  have  found 
it  difficult  to  adopt  even  an  approximation  to  this  rule  of  life, 
surrounded  as  they  are  by  races  to  whom  such  laws  were  patent 
foolishness.  Christianity  in  Europe,  strong  within  itself  and 
its  friendly  co-religionists,  is  in  a  different  case.  In  Tibet  the  sac- 
rosanct character  of  the  country  has  saved  the  inhabitants  again 


246  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

and  again  from  hostile  attack ;  and  this,  combined  with  the  neces- 
sity of  keeping  a  serf  people  in  an  unarmed  condition,  has  made 
of  the  Tibetans  a  quiet  race  unused  to  war.  I  do  not  for  a  mo- 
ment wish  to  say  that  the  Tibetan  was  found  by  us  wanting  in 
individual  pluck,  but  it  is  a  long  step  from  the  innate  courage 
of  an  untutored  and  misled  barbarian  to  the  effective  self-confi- 
dence of  the  same  man  properly  officered  and  buoyed  up  with 
all  the  confidence  that  religion  and  discipline  can  instil.  Herein 
lies  a  characteristic  of  Buddhism  which,  from  a-  political  point  of 
view,  cannot  be  classed  otherwise  than  as  a  serious  fault.  So 
long  as  the  earth  remains  divided  into  races  whose  first  duty 
is  self-preservation,  so  long,  deplorable  as  it  may  be  from  an 
ideal  point  of  view,  a  religion  which  does  not  also  help  to  pro- 
tect the  nation  as  well  as  defend  the  family,  stands  little  chance 
of  propagating  its  own  good  influences.  Now,  Lamaism  has 
no  such  tendencies.  It  does  not  make  of  the  man  a  good  fighter, 
and  it  certainly  does  not  make  of  him  either  an  intelligent  citizen 
or  a  good  father  of  a  family.  I  suppose  that  under  these  three 
heads  almost  every  human  virtue  can  be  classed.  That  it  does 
not  help  him  in  his  civic  life  is  obvious  enough,  for  absolute 
servitude,  mental  and  physical,  is  the  political  result  of  Lama- 
ism upon  its  flock.  So  far  as  concerns  his  domestic  relations, 
it  seems  clear  that  the  polyandry  practised  in  Tibet  is  not  likely 
to  lead  to  a  high  standard  of  morals.  The  results  of  the 
large  proportion  of  women  who,  in  consequence,  have  no  chance 
of  becoming  wives,  and  the  complication  in  family  relationships 
that  results  from  these  strange  marital  customs,  might  be  less 
harmful  if,  as  happens  in  Sumatra  and  on  the  coasts  of  Malabar, 
the  women  undertook  also  the  government  of  the  country.  But 
they  do  not ;  far  from  it ;  they  have  no  voice  whatever  in  the  gov- 
ernment of  the  country ;  they  still  remain  merely  the  toys  or  the 
beasts  of  burden  of  their  male  acquaintances.  It  need  not  be 
said  that,  in  the  conventional  sense  of  the  word,  morals  are 
unknown  in  Tibet. 


LAMAISM  247 

But  it  must  not  be  supposed  that  Tibetans  are  therefore  de- 
void of  characteristics  which,  after  all,  may  rank  as  high  as  the 
virtues  of  sterner  moralists.  They  are  courteous  and  hospitable, 
and  so  long  as  they  do  not  feel  that  their  wits  are  being  chal- 
lenged, their  word  may  be  relied  upon  and  their  kindliness  taken 
for  granted.  They  are  industrious  and,  as  we  have  seen,  capable 
of  extraordinary  physical  activity.  It  is  true  that  this  activity 
finds  its  vent  rather  in  the  muscles  of  the  legs  than  in  those  of 
the  fingers,  but  this  is  only  to  be  expected.  They  remain  dirty, 
but  dirtiness  is  a  merely  relative  expression.  If  you  must  have 
your  daily  tub  you  will  not  travel  far,  except  on  the  high  roads 
of  this  world — I  had  almost  said  of  England.  But  far  more 
than  this  fact,  which  must  be  known  to  a  traveler  within  even 
a  limited  radius,  there  remains  the  fact  that  dirt — so  far,  I  mean, 
as  affects  the  human  being — is  far  less  offensive  in  high  and  cold 
altitudes  than  it  would  be  in  London,  and  it  is  hardly  too  much 
to  say  that  there  was  no  one  in  the  expedition  who  did  not,  after 
a  comparatively  short  time,  come  to  look  upon  the  dirtiness  of 
those  who  surrounded  him  with  a  mere  mental  shrug  of  the  shoul- 
ders.^ It  has  been  before  suggested  that  the  cold  of  Phari  was  one 
of  the  reasons  of  its  supreme  filth,  and  this  is  borne  out  by  every 
experience  of  Tibet.  ^  I  do  not  think  that  many  of  even  those 
stalwarts  who  bathe  in  the  Serpentine  on  Christmas  morning 
would  cut  a  valiant  figure  on  the  Tang  la,  where  the  thermometer 
is  sometimes  fifty-nine  degrees  lower  than  the  freezing-point 
they  defy  in  Hyde  Park. 

But  in  other  ways  than  those  of  ablution,   the  religion  of 

*  It  is  not  uninteresting  to  remember  that  for  days  at  a  time  on  the  plain  of 
Phari  in  January  and  February  it  was  foolhardiness  to  attempt  to  wash  one's 
hands  before  midday.  I  remember  once  reaching  out,  in  the  early  hours  of 
the  morning,  for  an  aluminium  cup  which  had  had  some  water  in  it  over-night 
and  thoughtlessly  trying  to  drink  from  it.  My  lips  stuck  to  the  aluminium, 
and  the  skin  came  away  with  it.  The  water  was,  of  course,  a  block  of  ice, 
and  the  temperature  was  — 15°. 

*  Andrada  politely  remarks  "  e  se  bene  nelle  proprie  persone  non  hanno 
molto  riguardo  alia  delicatura." 


248  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

Tibet  makes  no  attempt  to  enforce  healthiness.  It  is  beyond 
question  that  the  ophthalmia  of  Tibet  is  due  directly  and  the  prev- 
alence of  hare-lip  ^  indirectly  to  the  physical  inadequacy  of  the 
Tibetan  race.  Pyramidal  cataract  is  another  very  common  dis- 
ease; this  is  mainly  caused  by  neglect  of  ophthalmia,  of  which 
the  origin  is  again  neglect  of  cleanliness.  These  physical  defi- 
ciencies or  deformities  might  easily  be  supplemented  by  a  refer- 
ence to  the  prevalence  of  smallpox  and  similar  dirt  diseases ;  but 
at  the  moment  I  wish  simply  to  emphasize  the  fact  that  a  religion 
which  neither  directly  nor  indirectly  encourages  cleanliness,  is 
one  which  requires  artificial  fostering  if  it  is  to  remain  a  power 
among  mankind.  That  artificial  fostering  Lamaism  has  always 
received.  Partly  from  its  inaccessibility,  partly  from  the  su- 
perstitious veneration  with  which  the  country  and  its  god-king 
have  always  been  regarded,  and  partly  because  of  the  stubborn 
exclusion  of  foreign  influences,  Lamaism  has  been  allowed,  if 
I  may  use  a  common  phrase,  to  stew  in  its  own  juice  until  the 
goodness  has  entirely  departed  from  it  and  from  the  people 
who  are  its  official  ministers.  It  is  difficult  at  this  moment  to 
point  to  a  single  recognized  and  observed  ordinance  peculiar  to 
Lamaism  which  is  of  the  slightest  use  or  virtue. 

It  is  odd  to  remember  that  an  early  explorer  in  this  country 
found,  as  he  thought,  every  sign  of  Christianity  except  the  es- 
sence of  it.  In  the  first  half  of  the  seventeenth  century  Father 
Andrada,  in  the  following  words,  reported  what  he  believed  to 
be  the  truth  in  this  connection : 

"  L'immagini  sono  d'oro,  &  una,  che  vedemmo  in  Chaparan- 
gue,  stana  a  sedere  con  le  mani  alzate  e  rappresentana  una  donna, 
la  quale  dicono  che  e  Madre  di  Dio :  riconoscono  il  misterio  deir 
incarnatione  dicendo,  che  il  figlio  di  Dio  si  e  fatto  huomo :  ten- 
gono  di  piu  il  Misterio  della  Santissima  Trinita  molto  distincto, 

*  Hare-lip  is  a  symptom  of  a  physically  under-developed  human  being. 


LAMAISM  249 

e  dicono,  che  Dio  e  trino  &  uno.  Usano  di  confessarsi,  ma  sola- 
mente  in  certi  casi  col  suo  Lamba  Maggiore.  Hanno  vasi  d'ac- 
qua  benedetta  molto  politi,  da  quali  pigliano  i  particolari  per 
tenerla  in  casa." 

There  is  without  doubt  a  curious  resemblance  between  the 
ritual  of  the  two  great  autocratic  churches.  The  arrangements 
inside  the  gompa  might  well  be  regarded  as  owing  their  origin 
to  Christian  usages.  The  sanctuary,  especially  at  night,  bears 
a  curious  resemblance  to  that  of  a  Roman  Catholic  shrine.  And 
the  antiphonal  chant  of  the  singing  men  and  boys,  ranged  just 
as  with  ourselves  in  lines,  decani  and  cantoris,  the  monotoned 
voice  and  the  rare  tinkle  of  the  Sanctus,  combined  with  the  genu- 
flexions before  the  altar,  carry  on  inside  the  church  a  merely 
ritualistic  resemblance  which  adds  color  to  the  fanciful  imagin- 
ings in  deeper  matters  of  Father  Andrada  of  the  Society  of  Jesus. 
Nor  does  the  similarity  stop  here.  The  orders  within  the 
Church,  the  relative  positions  of  pope  and  cardinal,  abbot  and 
parish  priest,  all  have  their  equivalent  in  Lamaism,  and  the  use 
of  the  cross  gammadion  as  the  badge  of  the  faith  cannot  but 
strike  as  curious  the  most  careless  observer.  Indulgences  also 
are  freely  used,  though  it  must  be  admitted  that  in  Lamaism 
these  approximate  more  nearly  to  the  erroneous  view  of  their 
intention  taken  by  Protestant  communities  than  to  their  real 
function  in  the  Roman  Church.  The  Dalai  Lama  on  one  occa- 
sion somewhat  overstepped  prudence  in  this  matter.  To  induce 
the  men  of  Kams  to  come  down  and  fight  us,  he  offered  them 
plenary  indulgences  which  should  not  only  absolve  them  from 
sins  past,  but  safeguard  them  against  the  penalties  for  sins  to 
come  for  the  next  six  months.  The  men  of  Kams,  furnished 
with  this  spiritual  armor,  did  not  fail  to  make  use  of  it,  and 
on  their  return  from  the  Karo  la  ran  riot  among  the  Grand 
Lama's  own  temples,  looting  and  sacking  everywhere  they  went. 


250  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

The  practice  of  blessing  small  articles  distributed  among 
pious  pilgrims  is,  of  course,  common  to  all  religions  in  the  world. 
The  spiritual  brigandage  of  the  lamas  finds  its  counterpart  in 
many  other  creeds,  for  the  purse  of  superstition  lies  at  the 
mercy  of  the  first  comer;  but  it  would  be  unjust  not  to  record 
in  the  strongest  terms  the  great  radical  difference  that  exists  be- 
tween Lamaism  at  its  best  and  Christianity  at  its  worst.  There 
has  never  been  absent  from  the  lowest  profession  of  our  faith 
a  full  recognition  of  the  half-divine  character-  of  self-sacrifice 
for  another.  Of  this  Tibetans  know  nothing.  The  exact  per- 
formance of  their  duties,  the  daily  practice  of  conventional  of- 
fices and  continual  obedience  to  their  Lamaic  superiors  is  for  them 
a  means  of  escape  from  personal  damnation  in  a  form  which  is 
more  terrible  perhaps  than  any  monk-conjured  Inferno.  For 
others  they  do  not  profess  to  have  even  a  passing  thought. 

Now  this  is  a  distinction  which  goes  to  the  very  root  of  the 
matter.  The  fact  is  rarely  stated  in  so  many  words,  but  it  is  the 
truth  that  Christianity  is  daily  judged  by  one  standard  and  by 
one  standard  only — its  altruism,  and  this  complete  absence  of 
carefulness  for  others,  this  insistent  and  fierce  desire  to  save  one's 
own  soul,  regardless  of  a  brother's,  is  in  itself  something  that 
makes  foreign  to  one  the  best  that  Lamaism  has  to  offer.  Kim's 
lama  may  exist  to-day;  that  is,  there  may  be,  and  indeed  I  have 
no  hesitation  in  saying  that  there  are,  in  Tibet  at  the  present  mo- 
ment members  of  this  priestly  caste  of  whose  sanctity  and  austere 
detachedness  from  mundane  pleasures  there  is  no  doubt,  men  of 
kindly  heart,  unsullied  by  the  world,  struggling  so  far  as  in  them 
lies  to  reach  back  to  the  great  Example  beneath  the  quivering 
leaves  of  the  pipul  tree  of  Gaya.  But  apart  from  the  fact  that 
these  men  are  rare  indeed,  and  were  they  commoner  could  exert 
little  or  no  influence  upon  others,  it  is  to  be  remembered  that  there 
is  only  one  way  in  which  the  pious  Buddhist  can  hope  to  help  his 
fellow-man,  and  that  the  very  structure  of  Lamaism  decides  for 


LAMAISM  251 

him  whether  or  not  he  Is  destined  to  be  one  of  the  helpers  before 
a  conscious  thought  moves  through  his  baby  brain. 

The  doctrine  of  the  reincarnation  of  Bodisats  is  perhaps  a  the- 
ory which  in  conception  is  not  unworthy  to  rank  close  behind  even 
that  great  sacrifice  upon  which  Christianity  is  based.  For  the 
Bodisat  has  earned  the  right  to  eternal  rest;  for  him,  and  he 
knows  it  well,  there  need  be  no  more  "  whips  and  scorns  of  time  " ; 
everlasting  quietude,  so  peaceful  that  the  soul  does  not  know  even 
that  it  is  at  peace,  the  Paradise  to  which  all  Buddhism  stretches 
out  and,  as  it  may,  creeps  from  point  to  point,  all  this  he  has  most 
fully  and  most  fairly  won.  But  having  reached  the  goal  of  all 
desire,  the  Bodisat  turns  again,  with  deliberate  purpose,  to  de- 
scend into  the  arena  of  the  world  and  the  flesh,  there  to  help  on- 
ward along  the  thorny  road  some  few  at  least  of  his  fellow-men. 
And  this  is  not  a  single  choice.  He  elects  so  to  continue  in  an 
eternal  cycle,  bound  down  by  the  cares  and  pleasures  of  the  flesh, 
generation  after  generation,  in  order  that  some  of  his  fellow  men 
may  have  their  feet  set  straighter  on  the  road  that  leads  to  the 
blissful  abyss. 

But,  as  I  have  said,  this  is  no  goal  for  the  ordinary  man.  If  he 
is  not  born  one  of  the  reincarnate  saints  of  Buddhism,  he  has  no 
further  interest  in  his  fellow  kind,  and  even  the  best  of  them  have 
no  other  incentive  to  action  or  piety  than  that  of  saving  them- 
selves, bodily  as  well  as  spiritually,  from  that  life  which  to  a 
Buddhist  is  the  truest  eternal  punishment.  This  is  the  underlying 
flaw  that  vitiates  the  spiritual  value  of  Buddhism,  just  as  it  viti- 
ates that  of  every  other  religion  of  the  world,  except  Christianity.* 

*  If  there  is  one  result  of  this  doctrine  of  reincarnation  more  unfortunate 
than  another  it  is  the  theory  that  a  man  who  is  physically  deficient  has  de- 
served his  punishment  by  his  behavior  in  another  world.  Browning's  remark 
in  "  Childe  Roland," 

"  He  must  be  wicked  to  deserve  such  pain," 

might  have  been  written — and  perhaps  should  only  have  been  written — ^by  a 
Buddhist  of  Tibet. 


252  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

It  cuts  at  the  root  of  human  sympathy.  It  isolates  the  indi- 
vidual in  his  life  and  in  his  death,  and  it  says  a  great  deal  for  the 
innate  beauty  of  the  character  we  found,  among  the  simple  Tibe- 
tan peasants  that  they  remain  kindly,  hospitable,  and  courteous 
in  spite  of  the  debasing  influences  of  the  only  religion  they  can 
know. 


CHAPTER   XIV 

THE  RELIEF  OF  THE  MISSION 

THE  relief  of  the  Mission  at  Gyantse  was  the  beginning  of 
the  last  movement  in  our  operations  in  Tibet.  For  seven 
weeks,  day  after  day,  the  bombardment  of  the  post  had  continued. 
It  was  an  ignominious  position  for  the  King's  Commissioner  to  be 
placed  in,  and  there  is  no  doubt  that  our  prestige  suffered  consid- 
erably during  this  period ;  still,  our  own  absolute  confidence  in  the 
successful  termination  of  our  operations  was  perhaps  somewhat 
reflected  in  Lhasa,  for  as  soon  as  news  came  of  the  advance  of 
the  troops  from  the  Chumbi  Valley,  representatives  were  actually 
deputed  by  the  Tsong-du  to  negotiate  in  Gyantse.  Colonel 
Younghusband  had  been  ordered  to  send  in  to  the  Tibetan  Gov- 
•ernment  a  polite  ultimatum,  the  terms  of  which  were  simply  that 
unless  negotiations  were  opened  with  an  accredited  representative 
of  high  standing  at  Gyantse  before  the  25th  of  June,  he  would  be 
compelled  to  proceed  to  Lhasa  and  there  conduct  the  necessary 
pourparlers.  It  was  generally  felt  in  the  post  that  the  India  Office 
had  failed  to  understand  that,  from  an  Oriental  point  of  view,  it 
was  a  display  of  weakness  even  to  mention  the  word  "  negotia- 
tion "  before  the  jong,  from  which  we  were  daily  fired  upon,  had 
been  completely  evacuated  and  full  apologies  and  reparation  of- 
fered for  the  insults  we  had  suffered  so  long.  But  the  orders 
that  Colonel  Younghusband  received  were  explicit.  Even  while 
the  lumps  of  lead  were  viciously  tearing  through  the  trees  of  his 
compound,  the  British  Commissioner  despatched  the  invitation 
to  negotiate  which  he  had  been  instructed  to  forward.  It  was  car- 
ried into  Gyantse,  most  unwillingly,  by  a  prisoner  on  the  ist  of 

253 


254  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

June.^  The  Tibetans  merely  waited  till  daylight  on  the  following 
morning  and  returned  it  unopened.  This  action  on  the  part  of 
the  Tibetans  cleared  the  issue  considerably.  It  is  true  that  the 
Colonel  took  care  that  the  Amban  should  be  informed  of  the  con- 
tents of  his  letter  and  of  the  action  of  the  Tibetans  in  the  matter, 
but  the  responsibility  for  renewed  hostilities  on  our  own  side  was 
at  an  end.  It  is  possible  that  the  abrupt  discourtesy  of  the  Tibe- 
tans saved  us  from  a  serious  dilemma;  for  had  they  been  more 
polite  the  situation,  as  it  then  presented  itself,  still  would  have 
demanded  a  different  and  a  stronger  handling  than  that  which 
might  have  been  suitable  in  the  early  days  of  our  dispute 
with  Tibet.  Younghusband,  however,  as  was  made  abundantly 
clear  by  the  reiterated  assurances  of  Lord  Lansdowne,  would 
not  have  been  allowed  to  depart  one  iota  from  the  policy  as 
laid  down  in  November.  That  policy,  in  fact,  the  Government 
adhered  to  till  the  end,  and  we  have  not  yet  fully  reaped  the  con- 
sequences. 

The  real  answer  to  the  demands  of  the  Commissioner  was  given 
in  a  redoubled  bombardment  that  afternoon.  There  was  nothing 
more  to  be  done  until  the  arrival  of  Brigadier-General  Macdonald. 
Covered  ways  extending  out  across  the  plain  to  Pala,  or  zigzag- 
ging up  toward  the  Gurkha  Post  or  to  the  bridge  across  the  river 
at  the  end  of  the  plantation,  made  communication  between  all 
parts  of  our  lines  easy  and  secure.  During  these  last  few  days 
the  Tibetans  began  firing  into  our  position  jingal  bullets  made 
of  pure  red-gold  copper.  The  use  of  this  metal  seemed  an  ex- 
travagance and  probably  indicated  that  the  supply  of  lead  was 
running  low.  They  were  pretty  little  things  about  as  big  as  a 
large  Tangerine  orange,  and  possibly  present  an  unique  use  of 
this  metal  for  such  a  purpose. 

^  Nothing  terrified  the  prisoners  in  Chang-Io  more  effectually  or  got  better 
work  out  of  them  than  a  threat  of  release.  This  man  asked  that,  if  he  carried 
out  this  commission,  he  might  be  given  a  safe  conduct  to  return  to  cap- 
tivity in  Pala. 


THE  RELIEF  OF  THE  MISSION  255 

On  the  6th  of  June,  Colonel  Younghusband  started  from  Chang- 
lo  with  a  strong  escort  of  mounted  infantry  on  a  return  journey 
to  Chumbi,  in  order  to  be  within  easier  communication  with  the 
Indian  Government;  he  arrived  at  Kang-ma  in  the  afternoon  of 
the  day,  and  on  the  following  morning,  before  light,  found  the 
post  half  surrounded  by  a  party  of  about  1,000  Tibetans,  who  had 
come  down  overnight  from  Nyeru  by  the  short  cut  to  Ra-lung. 
They  made  a  bold  attack  in  the  mist  of  the  early  dawn,  and  suc- 
ceeded in  killing  one  Gurkha  who  refused  to  take  refuge  on  their 
approach.  They  stampeded  the  yaks  and  even  managed  to  come 
to  a  hand-to-hand  struggle  with  some  of  their  drivers.  But  after 
a  moment's  delay  in  rousing  the  garrison,  they  were  easily  beaten 
off  and  lost  over  100  men;  their  retreat  was  turned  into  a  rout 
by  the  pursuit  of  the  mounted  infantry.  Most  of  them  made  their 
escape  by  the  mountain  nullahs  in  all  directions,  but  though  they 
remained  in  the  neighborhood,  no  further  attempt  was  made  to 
oppose  the  Commissioner's  return  journey. 

At  this  time  the  Tibetans,  so  far  as  could  be  ascertained,  had 
a  force  of  about  10,000  men  in  or  round  Gyantse;  of  these,  6,000 
were  holding  the  points  of  vantage  in  the  immediate  neighbor- 
hood of  Chang-lo.  There  were  1,500  on  the  jong  itself,  a  similar 
number  at  Tse-chen  monastery,  500  at  Dong^se,  and  the  remainder 
were  either  in  the  Palkhor  choide  or  in  the  town  and  villages 
hard  by.  A  rumor  reached  us  of  a  large  camp  just  hidden  from 
us  by  the  curving  spur  which  forms  the  amphitheater  within  the 
sides  of  which  the  monastery  is  built ;  these  men,  however,  must 
have  abandoned  their  encampment  soon  afterward,  certainly  be- 
fore the  arrival  of  our  troops.  Perhaps  another  3,000  men  may 
have  been  distributed  along  the  road  between  Gyantse  plain  and 
the  Tsang-po.  There  was  also  a  report  of  an  additional  2,000 
men  from  Kamba-jong  who  had  been  awaiting  our  advance  near 
the  Kala  tso.  However,  in  spite  of  frequent  alarms,  these  last  re- 
mained a  spectral  body  to  the  end.     The  Tibetans  were  com- 


256  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

manded  by  a  Depen  of  the  name  of  Chag-pa ;  associated  with  him 
in  supreme  political  autlwrity  was  an  old  friend  of  Kamba-jong 
days,  the  Teling  Kusho. 

The  relieving  force  arrived  on  the  26th  of  June,  having  had  an 
uneventful  march  from  Chumbi.  There  was,  indeed,  a  rumor  that 
the  Tibetans  Itad  concentrated  not  far  from  Nyeru  and  a  halt  was 
made  at  Kang-ma,  while  a  small  party  went  out  to  test  the  truth 
of  the  story.  Evidently,  however,  the  Tibetans  had  got  wind  of 
this  reconnaissance,  for  they  abandoned  their  position  overnight ; 
all  that  the  reconnoitering  party  found  was  the  still  warm  embers 
of  many  fires  and  a  few  cooking-pots  beside  them.  The  march 
was  continued  through  Red  Idol  Gorge  without  incident,  but 
shortly  after  leaving  Sau-gang  on  the  morning  of  the  26th,  Cap- 
tain O'Connor  brought  them  the  news  that  Ne-nyeng,  between 
them  and  Gyantse,  was  strongly  held.  He  and  I  had  come  out 
of  Gyantse  and  passed  Ne-nyeng  by  a  circuitous  course;  it  had 
been  re-fortified  and  partially  rebuilt  where  necessary.  Colonel 
Brander  had  demolished  its  defenses  about  a  month  before,  as  a 
:  punishment  for  an  attack  upon  the  mail  runners.  But  he  could 
not,  of  course,  occupy  a  place  so  large  and  so  remote  from  our 
small  garrison,  and  with  a  nation  skilled  in  building  like  the  Tibe- 
tans, the  amount  of  harm  which  we  could  do  by  the  chary  use  of 
our  small  stock  of  gun-cotton  had  easily  been  made  good  by 
them.^  The  walls  of  the  monastery  here  are  thirty  feet  sheer,  and 
the  Tibetans  had  strengthened  them  by  the  erection  of  sangars; 
Ne-nyeng  would  have  been  a  strong  little  post  had  it  not  been 
commanded  by  the  hills  which  half  encircled  the  little  plain  in 
which  it  lies.  Colonel  Brander  on  this  morning  co-operated  with 
Macdonald  by  leading  a  small  force  from  Chang-lo  up  the  hills  in 
rear  of  the  town ;  he  had  with  him  two  guns  and  a  Maxim.    He 

*It  was  discovered  that  for  our  engineering  and  military  requirements  the 
whole  stock  of  explosives  in  Calcutta  had  by  this  time  been  exhausted.  From 
Karachi  and  elsewhere  a  little  could  still  be  obtained. 


THE  RELIEF  OF  THE  MISSION  257 

reached  his  destination  without  being  detected,  and  then  awaited 
the  action  of  the  General  in  the  plain  below,  outside  the  walls. 
The  latter,  after  reconnoitering  the  position,  sent  up  a  detachment 
of  the  40th  Pathans  under  Colonel  Burne;  in  the  face  of  a  heavy 
but  badly  aimed  fire,  these,  men,  supported  by  a  contingent  from 
the  23d  Pioneers,  succeeded  in  effecting  an  entrance  by  scaling 
an  almost  perpendicular  buttress  of  adobe  and  mud.  Forcing 
their  way  on,  they  found  the  monastery  inside  to  be,  as  usual,  a 
human  rabbit  warren.  The  recesses  and  underground  chambers 
were  innumerable,  and  it  was  impossible  finally  to  clear  the  post 
of  its  inhabitants.  Many,  however,  were  killed,  and  a  lesson  was 
taught  the  survivors  which  the  people  of  Ne-nyeng  respected  till 
the  end  of  the  campaign.  After  the  monastery  had  been  taken 
a  few  shots  were  fired  from  a  stubbornly  held  house  just  outside 
the  walls ;  there  were  in  it  about  six  men,  and  they,  with  indomi- 
table pluck,  kept  up  a  steady  reply  to  the  volleys  of  rifle  bullets 
which  must  have  penetrated  clean  through  and  through  the  thin 
adobe  walls.  Brigadier-General  Macdonald  then  ordered  up  the 
ten-pounders  and  the  improved  seven-pounders,  and  60  or  70 
shells  were  fired  into  this  house ;  the  men,  however,  escaped,  and 
were  seen  making  their  way  through  the  bushes  and  inclosures  to 
the  north  of  the  village.  The  column  then  started  again,  and 
about  ten  o'clock  that  evening  the  last  stragglers  arrived  in  camp 
near  Chang-lo.  There  was  a  day's  halt  and  then  the  clearing  of 
the  Gyantse  neighborhood  began. 

On  the  28th  Macdonald  sent  a  strong  force  down  the  valley. 
The  32d  Pioneers  were  on  the  right  bank  of  the  Nyang  chu,  the 
7th  Royal  Fusiliers  and  the  23d  Pioneers  were  on  the  left  bank, 
and  they  moved  down  the  wide  open  space,  clearing  it  from  end 
to  end  as  they  advanced.  There  was  no  great  resistance,  and  at 
last  the  valley  of  Gobshi,  where  the  carpet  factory  is,  was  taken 
and  occupied.  Here  there  was  a  long  pause,  and  the  battalions 
forming  the  left  wing  of  the  attacking  force  found  themselves 


258  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

unable  to  proceed  to  the  capture  of  the  most  important  position  of 
the  day.  This  was  the  fort-like  monastery  of  Tse-chen,  crowning 
the  sharp  knife-edged  spur  which  here  runs  out  from  the  west, 
separated  from  the  hills  only  by  the  narrow  strait  in  which  Gobshi  . 
lies.  The  importance  of  this  operation  was  obvious,  for  by  se- 
curing Tse-chen  we  cut  off  the  main  and,  indeed,  the  only  remain- 
ing road  to  Gyantse  which  the  Tibetans  had  in  their  possession. 

It  fell  to  the  lot  of  the  Gurkhas  and  Pathans  to  capture,  by  one 
of  the  most  picturesque  actions  that  is  possible  to  imagine,  this 
western  barrier  which  had  for  so  long  screened  from  our  sight  the 
movements  of  the  enemy  along  the  Shigatse  road.  The  mise  en 
scene  of  the  fight  it  would  be  hard  to  parallel ;  the  key  to  the  posi- 
tion was  a  squat,  strongly  built  stone  keep,  astride  the  crest  be- 
tween two  fortified  peaks.  Immediately  below  it,  the  ascending 
tiers  of  white  monastery  buildings,  all  well  occupied,  prevented 
direct  approach.  On  the  other  side  of  the  crest,  toward  Dongtse, 
the  rock  descended  headlong.  By  the  time  the  movement  began,, 
the  sun  was  low  and  heavy  indigo  clouds  were  coming  up  from 
Shigatse.  The  jagged  outline  of  the  spur  was  clearly  silhouetted 
against  the  lemon-yellow  of  the  sky,  and,  after  a  long  wait,  one 
could  see  very  clearly  the  little  figures  of  the  Gurkhas  moving 
along  the  sky-line  from  the  west. 

It  was  a  difficult  task;  they  could  only  advance  in  single  file 
along  the  very  teeth  of  this  rocky  jaw;  again  and  again  they 
halted ;  once  they  signaled  down  to  ask  for  the  guns'  help  to  clear 
a  strongly  held  sangar  across  the  road;  it  was  instantly  given, 
beautifully  timed,  and  thoroughly  effective.  Then  the  little  dots 
crawled  forward  once  more  over  the  evacuated  wall.  At  last,  just 
as  the  leaders  reached  the  left-hand  peak  overlooking  the  jong,  a 
stubborn  and  somewhat  unexpected  resistance  was  encountered. 
The  defenses  of  the  peak  were  still  held,  and  the  curious  vision  of 
men  hurling  down  enormous  rocks  over  the  steep  sides  of  the 
peak  was  etched  sharply  against  the  glow  of  the  western  sky.    It 


THE  RELIEF  OF  THE  MISSION  259 

could  not,  however,  last  long,  and  the  Gurkhas  forced  their  way- 
through  to  the  main  position  only  to  find  it  empty.  Meanwhile, 
the  Pathans  had  been  sent  zigzagging  up  the  slope  to  the  north, 
passing  through  the  houses  of  the  monastery  almost  unscathed. 
To  the  great  regret  of  all  his  colleagues.  Captain  Cr'aster  was 
here  killed  by  a  matchlock  ball  fired  at  point-blank  range.  The 
Pathans  reached  the  top  almost  at  the  same  moment  that  the 
Gurkhas  descended  upon  the  jong,  and  the  mingled  figures  of  the 
lanky  Pathans  and  the  small  Gurkhas  were  clearly  distinguishable 
one  from  the  other  against  the  red  glow  of  the  dying  sunset.  It 
was  a  beautifully  executed  manoeuver,  and  from  first  to  last  it  was 
thrown  into  prominence  in  a  way  which  rarely  indeed  occurs  in 
military  operations  in  these  khaki  days  when  gallantry  and  ca- 
pacity in  the  field  are  rarely  to  be  detected  at  the  distance  of  a 
mile. 

On  the  29th  a  white  flag  approached  Chang-lo.  An  armistice 
was  demanded  for  the  purpose  of  negotiations.  Colonel  Young- 
husband  consented  to  a  cessation  of  hostilities  until  sunset  upon 
the  following  day,  in  order  to  allow  time  for  the  arrival  of  the 
Tibetan  representatives  in  Gyantse.  It  was  agreed  that  every- 
thing should  stand  in  statu  quo  during  this  armistice,  but  Colonel 
Younghusband  made  it  abundantly  clear  that  no  negotiations 
would  be  entered  upon  by  the  British  until  the  Tibetans  had 
evacuated  the  jong  and  had  retired  from  the  neighborhood  of 
Gyantse. 

It  was  obvious  that  General  Macdonald's  action  in  clearing  the 
valley  was  the  immediate  cause  of  these  overtures.  Subsequent 
events  seem  to  suggest  that  the  whole  scheme  was  a  device  to 
gain  time;  certainly  the  evacuation  of  the  jong  was  never  con- 
templated, and  the  only  practical  use  which  the  Tibetans  made  of 
the  armistice  was  to  increase  the  strength  of  their  fortifications  in 
direct  contravention  of  the  terms  under  which  it  had  been  granted. 
Just  before  the  expiration  of  this  armistice  a  messenger  arrived 


26o  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

asking  for  an  extension  of  time,  because  the  Ta  Lama,  the  chief, 
monk  official  and  one  of  the  four  members  of  the  Tibetan  Cabinet, 
could  not  press  on  beyond  Dongtse  till  the  following  day.  The 
armistice,  therefore,  was  extended  by  Colonel  Younghusband  till 
noon  on  the  following  day,  the  ist  of  July. 

On  that  day  ceremonial  visits  were  paid  to  Colonel  Young- 
husband,  both  by  the  Ta  Lama  and.  by  the  Tongsa  Penlop,^  who 
had  now  joined  us  with  a  large  retinue  from  Bhutan. 

The  Tongsa  Penlop  is  the  actual  ruler  of  his  country,  and  is  a 
man  of  considerable  capacity.  At  the  present  moment  the  posi- 
tion of  Deb  Raja  or  King  of  Bhutan  remains  unfilled.  It  would 
be  the  easiest  thing  in  the  world  for  the  Tongsa  Penlop  to  have 
himself  elected  to  the  vacant  post,  but  he  is  of  that  masterful  race 
of  men  which  prefers  to  have  the  power  rather  than  seem  to  have 
it.  He  sees  no  particular  advantage  in  being  nominal  as  well  as 
actual  sovereign  of  his  country,  especially  as  there  is  a  certain 
penalty  of  exclusion  imposed  upon  the  position  of  Deb  Raja.  He 
is  obliged  to  live  the  life  of  a  recluse,  he  is  separated  from  his 
wife  and  family,  and  he  rarely  has  the  chance  of  seeing  either 
them  or  any  other  of  his  acquaintances.  The  Tongsa  Penlop  is 
distinctly  of  a  jovial  type,  and  demurs  to  these  penalties,  though 
at  the  same  time  he  is  not  entirely  willing  to  sanction  the  election 
of  any  other  Bhutanese  chief  to  the  kirfgship.  He  is  a  small  man 
with  a  powerful  but  plebeian  cast  of  countenance,  and  his  habit  of 
perpetually  wearing  a  gray  uncloven  Homburg  hat  pressed  down 
all  round  his  head  to  his  eyebrows,  instead  of  his  official  crown, 
does  not  increase  his  dignity.  That  crown  is  a  very  handsome  or- 
nament. It  is  composed  of  a  circle  of  gold,  bearing  in  four  places 
the  representation  of  a  skull,  and,  Cleopatra-wise,  it  is  arched 
over  the  top  by  a  peacock's  head  in  gold  and  enamel.  In  theory, 
he  came  to  act  as  mediator  between  ourselves  and  the  Tibetans, 
but  his  unblushing  and  openly  admitted  preference  for  the  Eng- 
*  The  "  p  "  is  barely  sounded  in  this  name. 


THE  RELIEF  OF  THE  MISSION  261 

lish  was  not  entirely  satisfactory  even  to  us.  It  suggested  a  bi- 
ased mind  that  was  likely  to  interfere  with  the  discharge  of  his 
delicate  and  impartial  duties,  and  it  almost  became  too  much  when 
we  found  that  his  men,  with  his  full  sanction,  took  advantage  of 
the  presence  of  our  troops  to  harry  the  land  far  and  wide,  and  do 
what  looting  they  could  on  their  own  account.  On  the  whole,  he 
was  a  cheerful,  but  not  a  particularly  dignified  adjunct  to  the 
Mission.* 

He  appeared  soon  after  two  o'clock,  and  in  the  course  of  a  long 
conversation  explained  to  Colonel  Younghusband  that  the  Dalai 
Lama  agreed  that  further  war  and  bloodshed  must  be  stopped, 
and  had,  in  a  letter  written  to  himself,  nominated  the  delegates 
for  the  purpose  of  negotiating  with  the  invaders.  These  dele- 
gates were  the  Ta  Lama  and  the  Yutok  Shape,  both  "  Kalons  " 
or  members  of  the  Cabinet,  the  Tungyig  Chempo,  one  of  the  Dalai 
Lama's  personal  secretaries,  and,  with  them,  representatives  of 
the  three  great  monasteries  outside  Lhasa.  Of  these,  however, 
we  saw  the  full  number  only  after  a  long  interval,  during  which 
the  advance  to  Lhasa  was  in  progress.  In  the  middle  of  the  dis- 
cussion the  news  arrived  that  the  Ta  Lama  was  actually  ap- 
proaching under  a  flag  of  truce.  He  was  given  a  formal  recep- 
tion, and  the  following  day  was  appointed  for  the  first  audience 
for  the  purpose  of  negotiating. 

The  proceedings  of  the  2d  of  July  were  picturesque  enough,  but 
on  our  side  Colonel  Younghusband,  Mr.  White,  and  Mr.  Wilton, 
in  their  official  dark-blue  and  gold  and  silver,  made  a  barely  re- 
spectable show  beside  the  dazzling  brocades  of  the  Tibetan  visi- 
tors. The  room  in  which  the  Durbar  was  held  is  decorated  from 
end  to  end,  and  the  rich  oil  paintings  which  cover  the  walls 

*  Looting  by  his  attendants  in  the  Nagartse  district  caused  such  widespread 
distress  that  the  inhabitants  came  in  to  us  for  food.  We  had  been  careful  to 
leave  enough  food  in  the  houses  to  supply  their  needs  through  the  winter,  and 
to  pay  for  all  we  took .  The  Bhutanese  came  after  and  deprived  the  wretched 
peasants  of  grain  and  money  alike. 


262  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

formed  a  splendid  background  for  the  vivid  silks  of  the  delegates, 
chrome,  copper,  and  scarlet.  The  Ta  Lama  himself  was  arrayed 
entirely  in  figured  gold  silk,  except  that  he  wore  a  golden  Chinese 
silk  hat  turned  up  with  black  velvet.  The  Tungyig  Chempo  was 
similarly  dressed ;  the  Tongsa  Penlop's  attire  was  a  closely  woven 
Bhutanese  stripe,  gay  enough  in  itself,  but  sober  beside  his  splen- 
did companions'.  He  had  bare  legs  and  the  Homburg  hat.  He 
was  deferred  to  by  the  Tibetans  with  the  utmost  respect,  and, 
though  the  Tungyig  Chempo,  probably  the  bitterest  hater  of  Eng- 
land that  lives  in  the  world,  did  most  of  the  talking,  the  Tongsa 
Penlop  was  always  consulted  before  the  Ta  Lama  assented  to  his 
young  companion's  eloquence,  or  answered  a  direct  question  of 
the  Colonel's.  Very  little  was  done  in  the  way  of  business ;  official 
compliments  were  exchanged,  a  formal  re-statement  of  the  Tibe- 
tan case  was  once  again  elaborately  made,  and  then  Colonel 
Younghusband  announced  the  conditions  under  which  alone  ne- 
gotiations could  proceed.  The  only  feature  of  any  importance 
was  that  the  Tibetans  appeared  anxious  to  settle  the  affair  with 
the  English  themselves,  and  no  reference  of  any  kind  whatever 
was  made  to  the  Chinese. 

The  visitors  went  away,  and  the  question  immediately  became 
acute,  whether  or  not  the  first  and  primary  condition  laid  down 
by  Colonel  Younghusband  would  be  conceded.  Was  the  jong 
going  to  be  evacuated  or  not?  On  the  3d  of  July,  the  Durbar 
arranged  for  twelve  o'clock  fell  through,  because  of  the  non- 
appearance of  the  Ta  Lama.  He  appeared  later  on  in  the  day 
and  with  old-fashioned  courtesy  apologized  for  his  lateness, 
urging  as  his  excuse  the  infirmities  of  his  advanced  age.  The 
Tungyig  Chempo  made  no  comments  or  apologies.  This  Dur- 
bar also  ended  without  any  definite  assurances  on  the  part  of 
the  Tibetans  as  to  the  evacuation.  They  made  every  attempt 
to  gain  time  and  to  postpone  the  moment  when  they  would  have 
to  decide  this  all-important  question.     Colonel  Younghusband 


THE  RELIEF  OF  THE  MISSION  263 

finally  gave  them  till  the  5th  of  July,  at  twelve  o'clock,  to  come 
to  a  decision;  if  they  had  not  surrendered  the  fort  by  that  hour, 
he  assured  them  that  the  bombardment  would  instantly  be  begun, 
and  a  state  of  war  would  again  be  declared. 

Thus  deprived  of  any  chance  of  further  delay,  the  delegates 
adopted  the  fatally  easy  course  of  abstention  altogether.  The 
time,  of  course,  lapsed,  and  on  the  5th  of  July,  at  twelve  o'clock, 
no  sign  whatever  had  been  made.  General  Macdonald  was  slow 
to  begin  the  work  of  assault,  and,  in  spite  of  Colonel  Young- 
husband's  warning  to  the  Tibetans,  it  was  not  till  two  o'clock 
that  the  first  gun  was  actually  fired.  Little  was  done  that  day, 
and  the  Tibetans  were  allowed  ample  opportunity  to  get  the 
women  and  non-combatants  away  from  the  jong.  A  small  party 
of  Pior^eers  reconnoitered  to  the  west  of  Gyantse  town  and  came 
in  contact  with  the  enemy  who  were  defending  the  encircling 
wall  of  the  monastery,  but  only  a  few  shots  were  exchanged. 
The  day  passed  almost  quietly,  but  there  was  the  bustle  of 
preparation  overnight. 

There  had  been  rain  for  some  days  before,  but  the  night  of 
the  5th  was  clear  and  cloudless.  The  moon  did  not  rise  till 
iDCtween  two  and  three  in  the  morning,  and  as  the  three  columns 
advanced  eastward  across  the  plain  to  Pala,  they  had  her  light 
low  in  their  eyes,  over  the  jagged  outline  of  the  distant  hills. 
They  started  from  the  encampment,  about  two  miles  west  of 
Chang-lo,  at  about  one  o'clock,  and  making  a  wide  detour,  con- 
centrated at  the  village  about  three  o'clock  in  the  morning.  By 
this  time  the  moon  was  in  strength,  and  as  the  men  turned  again 
westward  to  their  objective,  the  masonry  of  the  high,  steep 
rock  showed  up  clearly  in  its  light.  The  dark  masses  of  gar- 
dens and  trees  at  the  foot  of  the  jong  were  to  be  occupied  first 
hy  our  men. 

No  time  was  lost,  and  twenty  minutes'  silent  march  brought 
the  first  attacking  parties  to  their  positions  a  few  minutes  before 


264  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

four.  The  alarm  was  given,  and  a  few  shots  were  fired,  but  it  was 
a  wild  and  badly  aimed  salvo,  and  no  casualties  resulted.  Two 
gardens  are  thrust  forward  on  either  side  of  the  eastern  or 
Lhasan  road  as  it  curves  round  the  rock  and  strikes  out  into 
the  plain.  In  the  darkness  there  was  some  confusion,  and  an 
unfortunate  incident  occurred  which  resulted  in  the  re-organiza- 
tion of  the  storming-column  into  two  parties  instead  of  three, 
as  had  been  originally  intended.  That  under  Colonel  Campbell 
and  Captain  Sheppard  occupied  the  garden  to  the  right,  where 
they  were  for  some  time  held  in  check  by  a  spirited  fusillade 
from  the  housetops  before  them.  At  the  earliest  streak  of  dawn 
use  was  made  of  "  Bubble,"  who  had  been  brought  along  with 
the  column  and  was  now  used  with  terrific  effect  at  point-blank 
range.  On  the  left.  Lieutenants  Gurdon  and  Burney,  of  Major 
Murray's  party,  gallantly  and  successfully  carried  out  their 
storming  work,  and  four  or  five  explosions  cleared  the  way  for 
a  general  assault,  which  rapidly  gave  us  possession  of  all  the 
houses  along  the  southern  foot  of  the  rock.  While  carrying 
out  this  all-important  duty.  Lieutenant  Gurdon,  to  the  deep  sor- 
row of  all,  met  his  death.  The  loss  of  a  man  of  his  caliber  was, 
in  itself,  a  severe  blow  to  the  force,  and  the  regret  was  doubled 
by  the  friendly  intimacy  which  acquaintance  during  two  months 
of  investment  had  necessarily  strengthened.  He  was  struck  on 
the  head  by  a  piece  of  stone  dislodged  by  his  own  charge  of  gun- 
cotton,  and  death  was  instantaneous. 

By  this  time  the  entire  jong  was  alarmed,  and  the  defenders 
joined,  as  well  as  they  could,  in  the  fray  that  was  raging  at 
the  base  of  the  hill,  but  the  steep  sides  of  the  rock,  and  the  san- 
gars  with  which  they  were  crowned,  made  it  difficult  for  them 
to  bring  their  full  armament  to  bear.  From  a  distance  our  guns 
and  Maxims  kept  a  keen  look-out  for  any  parties  of  Tibetans 
who  exposed  themselves  along  the  upper  slopes  or  defenses  of 
the  rock,  and  their  fire,  though  persistent,  was  almost  unaimed. 


THE  RELIEF  OF  THE  MISSION  265 

When  the  sun  was  fully  up,  the  earlier  part  of  the  day's  work 
was  done.  Resistance  had  been  crushed  out  along  the  eastern 
and  southern  bases  of  the  rock,  and  the  Gurkhas  had  succeeded 
in  establishing  themselves  at  a  point  some  fifty  feet  above  the 
houses  just  where  the  direct  approach  to  the  main  gateway, 
now  barricaded  heavily,  turns  the  last  corner.  They  there  came 
in  full  sight  of  the  Tibetans  swarming  upon  it,  and  found  the 
cul  de  sac  in  front  of  them  to  be  an  almost  impassable  barrier 
even  if  undefended. 

At  this  point  the  day's  operations  languished ;  indeed,  as  much 
had  already  been  done  as  the  General  had  intended  for  the  first 
day.  He  had  effected  a  lodgment  in  the  houses  which  com- 
manded the  south  and  east  of  the  rock,  and  on  the  west  the  32d 
Pioneers  had  pushed  forward  and  were  holding  two  or  three 
of  the  houses  to  the  west  of  the  main  street  of  Gyantse.  The 
jong  itself  remained  untouched,  and  that  it  was  strongly  held 
a  continued  fusillade  from  the  upper  works  still  proved  clearly 
enough.  These  shots  were  fired  chiefly  at  the  two  ten-pounders 
and  the  new  seven-pounder  guns,  under  Easton  and  Marin- 
din,  fifty  yards  in  front  of  the  Gurkha  post.  Except  for  these, 
all  sounds  of  fighting  ceased,  and  the  sun  blazed  down  with 
oppressive  heat.  The  men  had  been  now  at  work  since  one  in  the 
morning,  and  were  tired  out.  After  a  while,  the  enemy  them- 
selves realized  that  they  were  only  wasting  their  ammunition, 
and  silence  reigned  over  the  entire  position.  The  Tibetans,  just 
before  this  lull  began,  concentrated  the  fire  of  two  small  jingals 
upon  our  right,  where  the  ten-pounders  were  placed,  on  the 
north  of  Pala— between  that  village  and  the  spur  of  the  hills 
girdling  the  plain. 

About  two  o'clock  Colonel  Campbell,  to  whom  had  been 
committed  the  command  of  the  attacking  force,  sent  across  to 
Pala  village,  where  the  General  was  watching  operations  with 
his  staff,  urgently  recommending  that  an  attack  should  be  made 


266  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

at  once  upon  the  extreme  east  of  the  upper  works  of  the  jong. 
The  rock  of  Gyantse  is  so  steep  that  it  seemed  accessible  no- 
where except  along  the  main  approach,  which,  as  has  been  said, 
was  well  defended.  Any  direct  attack  here  would  have  been 
made  not  only  in  the  teeth  of  the  gun-fire  of  the  Tibetans  hold- 
ing the  gate,  but  also  at  great  danger  from  the  stones  rolled  down 
by  the  enemy  from  the  high  bastion  which  flanked  the  road. 
The  postern  gate  descending  to  the  town  on  the  northern  side 
we  were  not  in  a  position  to  attack,  and  we  had  not,  at  the  mo- 
ment, sufficient  men  to  press  round  on  that  side  and  hold  the 
houses  which  commanded  this  avenue. 

But  at  the  point  which  Colonel  Campbell  chose  there  was 
just  a  bare  possibility  of  scaling  the  rock.  It  was  a  fearful 
climb,  and  the  top  of  it  was  crowned  by  a  well-made  wall  flanked 
by  two  projecting  bastions.  At  first  the  General  was  unwilling 
to  press  forward  any  farther  that  day,  and  was  in  some  doubt 
whether  to  accede  to  this  request.  He  determined,  however, 
to  be  guided  by  the  advice  of  Colonel  Campbell  on  the  spot.  At 
a  little  past  three,  a  concentrated  fire  from  all  points  was  or- 
dered to  be  directed  upon  the  wall  at  the  head  of  this  steep 
climb.  The  common  shell  used  by  the  ten-pounders  was  now 
employed  with  terrific  effect,  and  one  could  see,  second  by  second, 
a  larger  ragged  hole  being  torn  open  in  the  wall  at  this  point. 
Clouds  of  dust  rose  and  slowly  drifted  away  to  the  west  in  the 
slight  breeze,  and  whenever  a  lull  in  the  cannonade  allowed  a 
clear  sight,  the  breach  was  wider  by  a  yard  or  two.  A  constant 
cataract  of  dislodged  masses  of  stone  and  brick  fell  down  the 
face  of  the  rock  below,  which  here  was  almost  sheer  for  forty 
feet.  It  was  not  shell  only  that  did  this  work.  Magazine  fire 
was  concentrated  at  the  same  point,  and  under  this  whistling 
canopy  of  ball  and  shell,  the  Gurkhas  were  soon  seen  moving 
upward  and  onward  from  the  houses  at  the  base  of  the  rock. 
It  was  a  moment  tense  with  excitement.    Lieutenant  Grant  was 


THE  RELIEF  OF  THE  MISSION  267 

in  charge  of  the  storming-party,  and  soon  the  first  figures  ap- 
peared over  the  belt  of  houses  and  trees  which  hem  in  the  rock 
on  this  side.  Instantly  the  fire  redoubled,  and  from  three  points 
a  converging  fire  hammered  and  bit  upon  the  wall  above  their 
heads. 

Absolutely  confident  in  the  skill  of  the  gunners,  the  Gurkhas 
climbed  on.  Not  a  Tibetan  was  seen  on  the  wall  above,  but 
through  the  loopholes  of  the  bastions  a  few  shots  were  fired 
which,  at  what  was  becoming  almost  point-blank  range,  caused 
one  or  two  casualties  among  the  little  figures  clambering  up- 
ward on  their  hands  and  knees.  To  those  who  watched  from  a 
distance,  it  seemed  as  if  more  loss  was  being  inflicted  when  again 
and  again  one  of  the  escalading  force  was  knocked  backward 
by  the  masses  of  stone  and  brick  dislodged  by  our  shells.  The 
steepness  was  so  great  that  a  man  who  slipped  almost  necessarily 
carried  away  the  man  below  him  also.  But  little  by  little  the 
advance  was  made,  and  conspicuous  in  front  of  the  small  com- 
pany was  Grant,  with  one  Sepoy,  who  was  clearly  determined 
to  rival  his  officer  in  one  of  the  pluckiest  pieces  of  work  ever 
known  on  the  Indian  frontier.  The  men  had  now  reached  a 
point  fifteen  or  twenty  feet  below  the  level  of  the  breach,  and  it 
was  no  longer  safe  to  allow  the  cannonade  to  continue.  The 
guns  had  been  tested  with  a  success  which  almost  surpasses  be- 
lief. The  chief  danger  lay  in  striking  too  low  and  exploding 
the  shells  on  the  outside,  but  not  a  single,missile  had  struck  the 
rock  at  the  base  of  the  wall.  The  marksmanship  displayed  was 
astonishing;  inferiority  in  the  gun  itself  was  the  only  real  dan- 
ger to  be  feared,  but  these  new  screw  ten-pounders  seem  to  have 
reached  mechanical  perfection  for  all  practical  purposes. 

Just  at  this  moment,  when  the  General  himself  was  issuing 
orders  that  the  fire  should  cease,  the  thin,  high  pipe  of  the  Gur- 
kha bugler  cried  again  and  again  from  the  distant  rocks  in  the 
four  shrill  consecutive  notes  which  call  for  silence,  and  silence 


268  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

reigned.  Then,  uncovered  by  our  guns,  the  last  desperate  climb 
was  made,  and  up  the  higher  ridges  of  an  ascent  so  sheer  that 
it  was  almost  impossible  for  our  men  to  protect  themselves, 
one  or  two  of  these  little  figures  scrambled.  They  reached  at 
last  the  crumbling  wreckage  of  the  Tibetan  wall.  Lieutenant 
Grant  and  his  faithful  follower  were  the  first  two  men  over, 
and  the  great  semi-circle  of  the  watching  British  force  held 
their  breath  for  a  second  to  see  if  they  would  be  at  once  shot 
down.  For  the  moment  it  was  two  men  against  all  the  enemy 
that  were  in  the  jong — for  the  third  man  slipped  and  carried 
away  in  his  fall  his  immediate  successor — and  it  was  patent 
enough  to  all  of  us  that  if  the  Tibetans  had  but  reserved  their  fire 
and  waited  in  the  bastions,  they  might  well  have  picked  off,  one 
by  one,  each  man  as  his  head  appeared  above  the  breach. 

But  hardly  a  shot  was  fired.  The  Tibetans  had  apparently 
seen  in  the  cessation  of  the  cannonade  only  a  lucky  opportunity 
for  their  own  escape,  and  forty  or  fifty  of  them  were  seen 
crawling  and  clambering  back  up  and  across  the  rock  face  to 
the  sangars  near  the  barrack  and  the  postern  gate.  Here,  for  a 
moment,  they  did  indeed  turn  and  use  their  matchlocks,  but 
these  were  their  last  shots.  Dividing  in  a  panic  into  two 
streams,  part  made  for  the  postern  gate,  part  for  the  extreme 
western  cliff  of  the  rock,  where  a  way  had  been  beaten  through 
the  wall  of  the  citadel,  and  two  long  ropes  were  hanging  down 
over  the  precipice  below,  their  ends  resting  on  the  shelf  a  hun- 
dred feet  beneath.  From  this  coign  the  Tibetans  could,  with 
danger  and  difficulty,  scramble  down  to  the  shelter  of  the  houses 
at  the  foot  of  the  rock. 

Meanwhile,  Gurkhas,  to  the  number  of  some  twenty  or  thirty, 
had  collected  at  the  breach  on  the  east,  and  slowly  moved  for- 
ward, carefully  testing  the  absence  of  the  enemy  from  each 
building  and  sangar  as  they  went.  Some  of  the  Tibetans  fled 
into  hiding  among  the  cellars  of  the  rock.     The  jong,  like  most 


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THE  RELIEF  OF  THE  MISSION  269 

other  Tibetan  buildings,  is,  underground,  a  labyrinth  of  dark 
rooms,  tortuous  passages,  and  low  storehouses.  Into  them  the 
remnant  of  the  enemy  fled,  hidden  in  the  impenetrable  obscurity 
or  concealed  beneath  stacks  of  dry  grass  or  heaps  of  rubbish. 
It  was  dangerous  work  getting  them  out,  as  most  of  them  still 
retained  their  arms.  One  small  party  pushed  on  straight  ahead 
into  the  citadel,  and  at  last,  after  meeting  with  a  few  spasmodic 
attempts  at  resistance,  climbed  from  story  to  story  up  the  rick- 
ety, slippery  ladders,  to  the  topmost  roof  of  all,  where,  attached 
to  a  prayer-pole  which  the  Tibetans  had  but  recently  put  up,  the 
Union  Jack  was  again  seen  rippling  in  the  strengthening  breeze. 

It  was  a  gallant  and  successful  finale.  The  climax  was  a 
dramatic  scene  which  those  who  saw  it  will  never  forget.  And 
though  it  may  be  invidious  to  mention  them,  the  names  of  Lieu- 
tenant Grant,  Colonel  Campbell,  and  Captain  Sheppard  should 
not  be  forgotten  in  connection  with  the  exploit.  The  recapture 
of  the  jong  in  this  absolute  and  final  manner  had  a  practical 
importance  which  was  even  greater  in  a  political  than  in  a  mili- 
tary sense.  The  confidence  of  the  Tibetans  in  the  impregnability 
of  their  newly  strengthened  position  was  perhaps  the  prime 
cause  of  their  obstinate  refusal  to  negotiate  on  equal  terms  with 
us.  And  there  is  no  doubt  that  if  they  had  been  allowed  to  retain 
their  fort  during  the  negotiations  at  Chang-lo,  it  would  after- 
ward have  been  interpreted  as  evidence  of  our  inferiority.  To 
have  defended  it  successfully  for  some  days,  or  even  to  have 
inflicted  heavy  loss  upon  the  expedition  during  its  capture, 
would  have  encouraged  the  Tibetans  to  defend  to  the  utmost 
every  other  post  of  vantage  along  the  route  to  Lhasa,  but,  as 
it  was,  a  lesson  of  the  first  importance  was  taught  the  Tibetans, 
and  the  absence  of  all  opposition  henceforward  is  unquestionably 
due  to  the  exploits  of  the  gunners  and  the  Gurkhas  on  this  day. 

This  recapture  closed  the  Gyantse  episode  of  the  expedition. 
It  was  now  imperative  that   an  advance  should  be   made  to 


270  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

Lhasa.  Mr.  Brodrick  cabled  from  home  to  that  effect,  and 
after  twelve  days'  preparation  the  General  was  able  to  continue 
the  advance.  During  that  time  reconnoitering  parties  were  sent 
out  in  all  directions,  Dongtse  was  occupied,  and  a  small  force 
pushed  on  down  the  valley  till  Penam  jong  was  reached.  This 
is  an  imposing  structure,  but,  from  a  modern  point  of  view,  is 
open  to  every  objection  to  which  the  apparent  impregnability 
of  Gyantse  had  been  proved  to  be  liable.  Enormous  stores  of 
grain  and  tsampa  were  found  in  Dongtse.  Penam,  too,  was 
found  to  contain  about  twelve  thousand  pounds  of  butter^ — a 
fact  which  cast  some  doubt  upon  the  bona  Udes  of  the  monks  of 
the  Palkhor  Choide  in  having  asked  thaf  the  fine  of  twenty-five 
maunds  might  be  remitted. 

G)ntradictory  reports  about  the  Karo  la,  about  the  willingness 
of  the  monks  to  fight,  about  the  attitude  of  the  Dalai  Lama,  and, 
indeed,  about  everything  connected  with  the  Tibetans  and  their 
policy,  were  now  rife.  In  the  course  of  these  days  I  made  a 
careful  inspection  of  the  jong.  The  scene  of  the  breach  itself 
is  a  striking  illustration  of  the  effect  of  rapid  sustained  fire. 
Hardly  a  square  yard  was  left  untorn  by  bullet  or  fragment  of 
shell.  The  jong  itself  had  not  been  greatly  altered,  except  by  the 
low  sangars  and  the  other  improvements  introduced  by  the 
Tibetans  during  the  days  of  armistice.  Very  few  of  the  bigger 
jingals  were  found  in  place,  and  an  explosion  which  took  place 
during  our  assault  had  set  fire  to,  and  destroyed,  some  part  of 
the  timbering  of  the  casemates  in  which  they  were  placed.  Two 
or  three  of  the  larger  ones  were  afterward  found  where  the 
Tibetans  had  buried  them.  One  of  the  most  extraordinary  fea- 
tures of  the  fight  was  the  amount  of  casualties  suffered  by  the 
enemy  on  the  postern  descent  of  the  jong.     This  was  regarded 

*Thi3  Tibetan  butter  is  kept  in  tight  cornered  leather  sacks  firmly  stitched 
down.  It  is  strengthened  with  fat  and  lard  and  seems  to  keep  indefinitely, 
though  from  the  first  the  smell  of  it  is  somewhat  rancid. 


THE  RELIEF  OF  THE  MISSION  271 

by  us  as  almost  completely  protected  by  the  walls  which  had  been 
built  during  the  investment  of  Chang-lo,  but  I  counted  nearly 
forty  dead  men  down  this  descent,  fifteen  of  them  lying  together 
in  such  a  way  as  suggested  that  one  exploding  shrapnel  shell 
had  accounted  for  all  of  them.  Our  casualties  during  this  week 
were  low  indeed.  Cr'aster  and  Gurdon  had  been  killed  and,  in 
all,  six  officers  had  been  wounded  slightly,  one  more  seriously. 
Of  the  men,  we  had  lost  but  three  killed  and  twenty-six  wounded, 
of  whom,  however,  two  died  of  their  wounds  within  twenty-four 
hours. 

A  rapid  interchange  of  communications  ensued  between 
Younghusband  and  the  authorities  at  Simla  and  in  London,  and 
at  last,  on  the  morning  of  the  14th,  the  advance  to  Lhasa  was 
definitely  begun. 


CHAPTER   XV 

•0 

THE  ADVANCE  TO  LHASA 

THE  force  moved  out  from  Gyantse  for  the  march  to  Lhasa 
on  the  morning  of  the  14th  of  July;  rain  had  fallen  for  two 
or  three  days,  and  the  road,  especially  where  it  crossed  the  fertile 
valley  of  the  Nyang  chu,  was  bad;  later  on  the  sharp  cut  trang 
by  the  side  of  the  Nyeru  chu  afforded  a  good  enough  passage. 
In  spite  of  the  drizzling  rain,  which  delayed  the  march  for 
one  hour,  and  lasted  well  on  into  the  later  hours  of  the  morn- 
ing, the  outlook  of  the  great  Gyantse  plain  was  changed  for  the 
better  indeed  since  we  had  seen  it  last.  For  more  than  two 
months  we  had  been  shut  up  at  Chang-lo,  and  during  that  time 
the  vegetation  and  the  cultivation  of  the  valley  had  advanced 
by  leaps  and  bounds. 

Nothing  is  more  vivid  in  Tibet  than  the  glaring  patches  of 
chrome  yellow  mustard  flower  at  this  period.  Square  cut,  and 
always  level,  they  light  up  the  dark  gorges  and  the  river  flats, 
in  a  way  of  which  it  is  difficult  to  give  any  idea.  For  the  rest, 
clematis  and  larkspur  are  the  most  noticeable  varieties  of  plants. 
The  rain,  which  had  kept  off  during  the  middle  of  the  day,  fell 
again  during  the  evening,  and  tents  were  pitched  at  Ma-lang, 
in  a  dull  and  depressing  downpour.  The  exact  position  of  the 
camp  could  be  ascertained  by  a  traveler  who  noticed  a  curious 
series  of  horizontal  flaws  of  vivid  pink-stained  limestone,  cross- 
ing through  the  cliffs  on  the  northern  side  of  the  valley,  just 
where  the  valley  flats  open  out  in  a  sandy,  stone-strewn  stretch. 
There  are  a  few  ragged  and  neglected  adobe  walls  here,  evi- 

272 


THE   ADVANCE   TO   LHASA  273 

dences  of  a  long-abandoned  village,  and  across  the  stream  there 
is  a  small  group  of  houses,  perhaps  four  in  number.  Nothing 
of  any  importance  occurred,  except  that  the  rain,  which  held 
off  during  the  night,  descended  again  at  six  o'clock  on  the 
following  morning. 

To  some  readers,  rain  may  seem  a  small  matter  in  these  alti- 
tudes, and  so  long  at  any  rate  as  the  march  is  conducted  over 
hard  rock  floors,  there  does  not  seem  much  danger  of  its  causing 
either  ill-health  or  delay.  But  where  speed  is  of  the  utmost 
possible  importance,  and  where  the  transport  has  therefore  been 
cut  down  to  its  utmost  necessary  compass,  rain  is  one  of  the  most 
dangerous  accidents  which  can  befall  a  flying  column.  Sleeping 
in  wet  clothes,  night  after  night,  is  not  after  all  as  dangerous 
an  occupation  as  dwellers  in  cities  are  apt  to  think.  But  the  real 
crux  is,  that  where  tents  must  of  necessity  be  used  by  troops 
on  the  march,  the  difference  in  sheer  weight  caused  by  the  satu- 
ration of  canvas  is  almost  incredible,  and  where  every  beast 
of  burden  is  already  loaded  with  the  last  additional  pound  which 
common  sense  permits,  a  steady  rain-storm  daily  will  of  itself 
ruin  an  expedition's  mobility,  and  almost  its  chances  of  success. 
Still  there  was  a  sufficient  margin,  for  Bretherton  and  Mac- 
donald  had  allowed  in  their  calculations  for  the  extra  strain 
of  a  long  forced  march,  and  therefore  had  seen  to  it  that  com- 
paratively light  loads  were  originally  distributed  among  the 
beasts.  They  had  also  carefully  weeded  out  the  weaker  animals 
trom  the  various  corps,  and  had,  in  consequence,  a  thoroughly 
well-equipped  transport  service  for  this  150-mile  dash.  Thus 
it  was  that  the  rain  proved  no  worse  than  an  inconvenience, 
though  only  those  who  have  experienced  it  can  know  the  in- 
tolerable dreariness  of  sitting  down  on  wet  earth  in  pouring  rain, 
waiting  hour  after  hour  for  the  arrival  and  the  pitching  of  the 
already  soaked  tents.  My  own  servants  were,  perhaps,  for  this 
particular  work,  the  best  in  the  Mission  camp,  and  though  in 


274  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

all  human  probability  neither  of  them  will  ever  read  this  book, 
I  should  like  to  render  them  a  moment's  tribute  for  the  constant 
cheerfulness  and  alacrity  with  which  they  generally  managed 
to  set  up  my  tent  among  the  first.*  After  tents  had  been 
pitched,  and  beds  screwed  together,  or  valises  unrolled,  the 
native  servants  set  to  work  to  prepare  the  evening  meal.  This 
is  a  business  in  which  the  Indian  servant  stands  unrivaled;  at 
a  time  when  there  was  absolutely  no  dry  thing  within  a  quarter 
of  a  mile,  except  the  interior  of  one's  boxes  and  one's  bed — 
and  not  always  those — these  servants  will  somehow  manage  to 
obtain  a  fire  from  wood  that  is  demonstrably  wet,  and  when  an 
Indian  cook  has  been  given  a  fire  and  a  couple  of  stew-pans, 
there  is  very  little  that  he  cannot  perform,  within  the  conven- 
tional limits  of  camp  cookery. 

There  is  not  very  much  to  report  about  this  second  passage 
by  the  side  of  the  river  to  Ra-lung.  On  the  next  day,  we 
passed  Gobshi,  and- encamped  a  quarter  of  a  mile  west  of  Long- 
ma  in  a  pitiless  downpour.  On  the  third  day  from  Gyantse, 
we  reached  Ra-lung,  and  encamped  a  little  way  farther  along 
the  same  plateau  upon  which  Colonel  Brander  had  pitched  his 
tents  in  the  first  week  in  May.  The  short  vegetation  was  rank, 
and  surprisingly  bright,  but  no  trees,  of  course,  were  to  be  seen 
after  we  had  left  behind  the  willows  of  Kamo  and  Long-ma. 
The  mounted  infantry,  of  course,  preceded  us  day  after  day, 
and  by  their  reports  the  length  of  the  next  day's  journey  was 
decided.     On  the  evening  of  the   i6th,  news  was  brought  in 

^Really  good  servants  are  rare  indeed  on  the  Eastern  Himalayan  frontier. 
One  of  mine,  the  syce  Tsering,  has  been  taken  into  the  service  at  the  Resi- 
dency of  Sikkim.  The  other,  my  bearer,  is,  I  believe,  still  attached  to  the 
Rockville  Hotel  at  Darjeeling.  His  name  is  Singh  Bir,  and  if  this  slight  men- 
tion of  his  services  to  me  during  this  expedition  may  recommend  him  to  others 
who  wish  to  obtain  a  thoroughly  capable  personal  and  camp  servant,  I  shall  be 
glad.  At  a  time  when  other  servants  were  deserting  daily  in  sheer  terror, 
Singh  Bir  remained  steady,  though  when  pressed  he  admitted  his  conviction 
that  we  were  as  good  as  dead  men  already  if  we  tried  to  reach  Lhasa. 


THE   ADVANCE   TO   LHASA  275 

that  the  wall  on  the  Karo  la  had  been  lengthened  and  reinforced 
by  a  parallel  wall  200  yards  behind  it.  Great  activity  on  the 
enemy's  part  was  reported,  and  the  small  column  prepared  for  a 
sharp  engagement  on  the  i8th.  The  composition  of  the  little 
force  may  as  well  be  set  down  here;  it  consisted  of  six  guns  of 
the  7th  Mountain  Battery  (ten  pounders),  and  two  guns  of  the 
30th  Mountain  Battery  (seven  pounders),  with  the  Maxim  of 
the  Norfolk  Regiment.  There  were  also  half  a  company  of  the 
3d  Sappers,  and  the  first  and  second  companies  of  mounted  in- 
fantry— 200  men  in  all.  Of  infantry,  there  were  the  head- 
quarters and  four  companies  of  the  Royal  Fusiliers;  one  com- 
pany of  the  23d  Pioneers;  headquarters  and  four  companies  of 
the  32d  Pioneers,  headquarters  and  six  companies  of  the  40th 
Pathans,  and  headquarters  and  six  companies  of  the  8th  Gur- 
khas. There  was  one  section  of  a  British  Field  Hospital  and 
two  and  a  half  sections  of  a  Native  Field  Hospital,  while  about 
3,000  mules  drawn  from  the  7th,  9th,  ipth,  and  12th  Mule  Corps 
acted  as  transport.  Besides  these  beasts,  there  were  also  about 
250  yaks,  and  two  Coolie  Corps. 

This  was  a  well-equipped  and  self-contained  little  force,  and 
there  was  no  doubt  whatever,  that  what  Colonel  Brander  had 
been  able  to  do  with  less  than  350  men  in  May,  this  column 
could  easily  achieve  in  the  middle  of  July.  But  the  peculiar 
difficulty  of  forcing  the  Karo  la  lies,  it  will  be  remembered,  in 
the  fact  that  the  wall  built  by  the  Tibetans  crossed  the  gorge 
just  where  two  ice-fields  2,000  feet  above  the  floor  of  the  valley 
render  a  turning  movement  impossible  on  either  side.  The 
wall  itself  was,  as  we  know,  of  magnificent  proportions,  and 
as  we  were,  from  the  reason  mentioned,  almost  committed  to  a 
direct  attack,  if  full  use  had  been  made  by  the  Tibetans  of 
their  unique  position,  we  naturally  expected  that  some  severe 
loss  on  our  side  was  inevitable.  We  moved  on  from  Ra-lung, 
on  the  17th,  to  the  Plain  of  Milk. 


276  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

Over  the  Gom-tang  plain  foxes  and  gazelles  moved  away  as 
we  approached.  Fine  grass  covered  the  quagmires  vv^ith  which 
the  plain  is  carpeted,  and  in  between  the  tussocks,  where  the  clear 
brown  water  straggled,  tiny  pink  primulas  lay  out  in  the  sun ; 
through  the  gorge  below  the  glaciers  of  Nichi-kang-sang,  we 
passed  young  tender  nettles  and  purple  flowers,  which  looked 
like  drooping  cowslips ;  saxifrage  was  there,  with  white  blossoms, 
and  vetches,  both  purple  and  blue.  Almost  on  the  same  spot 
as  that  on  which  Colonel  Brander's  force  encamped  a  halt  was 
made  for  the  night.  Macdonald  himself  went  out,  and  from 
a  distance  reconnoitered  the  position.  He  found  that  the  reports 
were  true,  and  that  a  second  wall  had  been  built  almost  across 
the  valley ;  but  this  was  not  all,  for  the  Tibetans  had  learned  the 
use,  for  the  purpose  of  defense,  of  advanced  sangars,  and  these 
had  been  built  on  both  sides  of  the  gorge,  right  up  to  the  crown- 
ing cornice  from  which  the  Pioneers  two  months  before  had, 
after  a  terrible  climb,  dislodged  the  defenders  of  the  single  san- 
gar  down  below. 

But  the  Tibetans'  courage  was  oozing  away.  They  have  since 
admitted  that  the  fame  of  our  guns  was  widely  spread  in  all 
parts  of  the  country,  and  the  fact  that  the  cornice  above  referred 
to  was  held  may,  perhaps,  have  been  the  reason  why  our  oppo- 
nents did  not  stay  to  defend  the  position  they  had  chosen  with 
such  care.  For  from  that  cornice  they  could  see  over  the  Karo 
la  itself  on  to  the  Plain  of  Milk,  and  there  they  could  see  with 
unpleasant  plainness  the  slow  accumulations  of  men,  munitions, 
beasts,  and  tents  which  accompanied  our  march.  It  is  difficult 
to  say  when  the  bulk  of  the  enemy  deserted  their  defenses,  but 
on  the  following  morning,  when  the  first  line,  composed  of  four 
companies  of  the  Fusiliers,  flanked  on  either  side  by  Gurkhas, 
moved  out  of  camp  to  the  attack,  the  only  position  that  was 
still  found  held  by  the  enemy  in  any  way  was  the  high  cliff  to 
which  we  have  repeatedly  drawn  attention.     They  indeed  fired 


THE   ADVANCE   TO   LHASA  277 

but  one  or  two  shots,  but  they  could  no  longer  be  allowed  to 
remain  in  their  position  to  threaten  our  advance  or  our  com- 
munications, and  the  Gurkhas  were  sent  up  to  clear  them  out. 
On  this  occasion,  actual  fighting  took  place  at  a  height  of  nearly 
19,000  feet  above  sea-level.  One  of  the  officers  engaged  on  this 
day  told  me  that  the  physical  strain  thereby  involved  was  almost 
intolerable.  On  one  occasion  he  had  succeeded  in  hauling  him- 
self up  to  a  small  plateau,  defended  at  its  farther  end  by  a 
Tibetan  sangar;  he  had  with  him  five  men:  there  was  no  cover 
available,  so  he  at  once  gave  the  word  to  charge.  The  space 
was  not  more  than  thirty  yards  long,  but  before  they  had  gone 
fifteen,  the  little  force  of  six  men,  careless  of  the  Tibetan  fire, 
had  flung  themselves  on  the  ground  almost  fainting,  and  in  some 
cases  positively  sick.  But  in  spite  of  these  obstacles  the  work  was 
done,  and  very  well  done,  and  slowly  the  remaining  Tibetans,  who 
were  for  the  most  part  men  from  Kams,  were  driven  out  from 
their  rocky  eyries,  from  which  they  had  kept  up  an  ineffectual  fire 
upon  our  men,  to  seek  refuge  across  the  bitter  white  slopes,  or  in 
the  aquamarine  crevasses  of  the  snow-fields  behind  them.  After 
a  long  delay  the  General  moved  on  down  the  valley,  beyond  the 
wall,  which  was  totally  undefended,  only  to  find  that  some  of  the 
enemy  were  still  escaping  by  the  steep  shale  slope,  immediately 
to  the  east  of  it.  The  Pathans  were  sent  up  this  height,  which 
overlooks  the  ice-bound  tarn  to  which  I  have  before  referred; 
here,  also,  many  of  the  Tibetans  escaped  by  plunging  boldly 
across  the  ice-fields  of  the  glaciers  to  the  south,  where  none 
of  our  men  were  able  to  follow  them.  But  the  position  they 
had  held  was  cleared,  and  the  column  moved  on  in  safety,  two 
miles  down  the  valley  beyond  Dzara,  to  the  night's  halting 
ground. 

Below  the  Karo  la,  the  aspect  of  the  valley  undergoes  a 
marked  change ;  of  trees  there  are  still  none,  and  only  the  appear- 
ance of  the  vivid  sky-blue  Tibetan  poppy  distinguishes  the  flora 


278  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

of  this  pass.  This  is  beyond  question  the  most  striking  flower 
that  we  saw  throughout  the  entire  journey.  It  was  found  ex- 
panding its  crinkling  crepe-de-chine  silk  petals  in  the  sand  among 
the  rocks  at  the  Karo  la,  and  it  remained  with  us  until  we  de- 
scended to  the  valley  of  the  Tsang-po.  The  height  varies  from 
five  inches  to  fifteen,  the  leaves  and  stalks  are  covered  with  sharp, 
stiff  spines,  and  the  color  is  the  most  vivid  blue  t  have  seen  in 
a  plant,  far  exceeding  in  strength  and  purity  the  forget-me-not, 
or  the  germander  speedwell.*  Aconite  or,  as  we  know  it  in  Eng- 
land, monkshood,  is  unfortunately  common,  and  the  utmost 
care  was  needed  to  prevent  the  beasts  of  the  transport  from  crop- 
ping the  tall  pyramids  of  gray-purple  and  gray-green  flowers 
which  spring  beside  the  roads  and  dot  the  damper  levels  of  the 
plain.  Blue  five-inch  gentians  grow  in  profusion  here,  and  stout 
patches  of  the  little  sunflower  gardeners  know  as  Gerbera  Jame- 
sonii. 

But  the  Alpine  flora  was  not  yet  fully  out;  the  rocks  which 
hem  in  the  valley  of  the  Karo  chu  dominated  the  scene.  They 
deserve  special  mention,  for  the  high  bastions  and  curtains  of 
these  thousand-feet  precipices  run  for  miles.  The  little  cones  of 
rufous  debris  which  reach  upward  from  the  ground  to  every 
chimney  and  channel  of  the  cliff  do  not  detract  from  the  extra- 
ordinary abruptness  with  which  these  red  barriers  leap  up- 
ward to  the  sky,  towering  aloft  sheer  from  the  stream  on  either 
side.  The  river,  too,  is  worth  a  note.  All  morning,  after  the 
bitter  frost  has  bound  up  the  leaks  of  the  encircling  but  invisible 
glaciers  overhead,  the  stream  runs  clearly  enough,  but  toward 
evening  the  main  flow  from  the  eastern  side  of  the  ice-fields  of 
Nichi-kang-sang  hurls  itself  into  the  river  like  a  flood  of  anti- 
mony, so  black  and  leaden  are  the  waters. 

In  these  scenes  we  pitched  our  camp  for  the  night,  and  con- 
sidered the  advance  we  had  made. 

^  I  sent  roots  home  to  Madresfield  and  Burwash,  but  I  am  afraid  nothing 

has  survived. 


THE   ADVANCE   TO   LHASA  279 

The  official  estimate  of  the  importance  of  this  operation  seems 
misleading ;  it  is  probable  that  not  more  than  200  Tibetans  were 
holding  the  southern  cornice  west  of  the  wall,  and  about  the 
same  number  tried  to  escape  by  the  slope  of  shale  to  the  east.* 
On  the  next  day,  the  19th  of  July,  I  went  down  the  stream  on 
the  right  bank  with  Mr.  Claude  White,  who  was  taking  a  series 
of  photographs.  The  long  line  of  the  column  crept  along  under 
the  high  scarp  to  the  north.  As  we  rode  beside  it  all  day  long 
we  saw  partridges,  foxes,  hares,  and  marmots  of  a  larger  kind 
than  those  which  honeycomb  the  Phari  plain.  The  flora  of  the 
valley  itself  remains  inconspicuous  here,  for  the  high  cliffs 
which  bind  it  in  prevent  the  growth  of  plants ;  only  jagged  slate 
edges  and  grasses  moving  in  the  wind  decorated  the  trang  along 
which  the  column  moved.  On  the  other  side  of  the  river  we 
found  much  dwarf  edelweiss  and  some  stumpy  reeds.  But  the 
rocky  formation  of  the  ground  was  still  the  most  important  fea- 
ture of  the  scene.  At  last  the  Yam-dok  tso  appeared  in  the  far 
distance,  a  blue,  quivering  line,  which  one  could  swear  was  but 
a  mirage.  Soon  after  that,  on  turning  the  corner,  Nagartse 
jong  was  seen,  three  miles  away  across  the  plain.  We  moved 
slowly  upon  it,  and  thereupon  heard  that  the  Tibetan  delegates, 
who  had  fled  from  Gyantse,  were  ready  to  meet  us,  and  requested 
an  audience.  We  went  on,  and  camped  a  quarter  of  a  mile  from 
the  jong  on  a  rising  patch  of  dried  ground.  The  Yam-dok  tso 
and  its  little  sister,  the  Dumu  tso,  were  glittering  in  the  sun 
below  the  unfolding  hills. 

Twenty  years  have  passed  since  Ugyen  Gyatso,  one  of  the  best 
of  our  native  explorers,  corrected,  inadequately  enough,  but  to 
the  best  of  his  ability,  the  traditional  delusion  as  to  the  shape 
of  the  Sacred  Lake  of  Tibet.  Traveling  in  disguise  and  almost 
by  stealth,  his  opportunities  were  limited,  but  his  map  of  the 

*  This  latter  number  alone  was,  however,  reckoned  as  800  by  the  headquar- 
ters staff.  I  have  throughout  this  book  given  numbers  and  facts  that  seem 
to  me  to  accord  with  observations  taken  during  the  day,  and  generally  accepted 
by  impartial  eye-witnesses. 


28o  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

Yam-dok  tso  was  the  first  improvement  upon  D'Anville's  1735 
design,  and  it  is  probable  that  to  this  day  the  common  concep- 
tion of  this  strange  sheet  of  water  is  that  originated  by  the 
Jesuit-taught  Lamas  of  17 17,  and  repeated  without  any  great 
variation  by  every  atlas  down  to  1884.  But  the  Yam-dok  tso 
is  by  no  means  a  symmetrical  ring  of  water  surrounding  a  similar 
ring  of  land.*  Lieutenant-Colonel  Waddell  uses  the  happy  ex- 
pression "  scorpionoid  "  to  describe  its  real  shape. 

It  is  not,  perhaps,  surprising  that  our  ignorance  of  what  is 
undoubtedly  the  most  interesting  inland  sea  of  Asia  should  have 
been  so  profound.  Its  claim  to  sacred  isolation  has  been  re- 
spected far  more  than  that  of  Lhasa  itself.  For  every  one  who 
has  ever  set  eyes  on  the  Yam-dok  tso,  four  or  five  foreigners  have 
seen  Lhasa.  Indeed,  we  do  not  certainly  know  that  before  this 
expedition  any  Europeans  except  Manning  and  della  Penna's 
company  had  ever  passed  along  the  margin  of  the  long,  narrow 
waters  which  mean  so  much  to  the  superstitious  Tibetan  peas- 
ant, and  from  Manning,  the  incurious,  we  learn  little  indeed, 
except  that  the  water  is  bad— a  wholly  misleading  statement, 
for  though  the  taste  is  somewhat  alkaline,  neither  salt  nor  entirely 
fresh,  it  is  wholesome  and  clean. 

The  Tibetans  themselves,  besides  the  name  Yam-dok  tso,  or 
"High  Grazing  Lake,"  use  another,  "Yu-tso,"  or  the  "Turquoise 
Lake,"  and  it  is  impossible  to  describe  more  exactly  the  exquisite 
shade  of  blue-green  which  colors  the  waters  under  even  the  most 
brilliant  azure  skies.  Near  inshore  the  innumerable  ripples  are, 
indeed,  blown  in  over  the  white-sanded  floor  as  colorlessly  as 
wavelets  on  a  South  Pacific  strand  of  white  coral,  but  twenty 
yards  out  the  bottom  drops  suddenly,  and  the  lake  glows  deeply 
with  the  color  from  which  it  takes  its  name. 

On  shore,  dotted  severally  over  the  wide,  clean  shelf  of  sand 
and  grit  and  pebble,  a  white  drift  into  which  one  sinks  to  the 
^  Some  maps  recognized  that  this  "  island  "  incloses  an  inner  lake. 


THE   ADVA]Hi:E   TO   LHASA  281 

ankles,  great  nettles  grow  rudely,  only  yielding  place  to  the 
waving  hoof-track— there  are  no  wheels  in  Tibet— which  follows 
the  curve  of  the  beach.  Above  it,  feathery  green  plants  of  worm- 
wood, transfixed  by  the  dead  brown  bents  of  last  year,  crowd 
downward  from  the  steep  banks,  on  which  sturdy  bushes  of  bar- 
berry and  wholesome  English  dog-rose  flourish  as  well  as  the 
crowding  weight  of  "  traveler's  joy  "  allows.  Over  that  again, 
in  the  clefts  of  the  flawed  rocks  or  between  the  tussocks  of  the 
grassy  hill  slopes,  where  the  yaks  and  goats  graze,  spring  prickly 
poppies,  sky-blue  and  purple,  spikes  of  lemon-yellow  foxgloves, 
and  primulas  and  oxlips  of  half  a  dozen  shades.  Here  and 
there  is  cultivation,  and  wherever  the  stunted  barley  crop  is  sown 
comes,  too,  a  sweeping  carpet  of  forget-me-not,  eighteen  inches 
in  height,  and  blue  with  a  virility  and  strength  unknown  to  the 
pale  myosotis  of  English  ditches.  In  the  grass  flats  of  fine 
closely  cropped  turf,  which  here  and  there  join  the  foreshore  to 
the  hills,  is  a  jetsam  of  green,  low-growing  lilies,  as  yet  only  star- 
ring the  ground  with  their  flat  leaves,  but  bearing  aloft  on  their 
stalks  a  promise  of  sturdy  flowers  to  come.  Opposite,  across 
the  mile-wide  strip  of  water,  the  steep,  green-velveted  hills  of 
the  "  island  "  rise  out  of  their  own  reflections,  checkered  here  and 
there  by  the  vivider  green  of  cultivation  or  the  dull  moving  con- 
trast of  cloud  shadows. 

There  is,  perhaps,  much  excuse  for  the  old  belief  that  the 
Yam-dok  tso  is  indeed  a  ring  of  water,  for  in  the  two  wide 
places  where  the  great  circle  is  broken  the  shaking  stretch  of 
black  mud  is  even  now  more  kin  to  water  than  to  land.  It  is 
fair  enough  to  see,  with  its  wastes  of  green  reeds  and  hummocks 
of  primula-strewn  grass,  but  it  is  merely  a  quagmire,  across 
which  it  is  dangerous  to  walk,  and  impossible  to  lead  a  horse. 
A  hundred  years  ago  it  must  have  been  shallows— a  thou- 
sand years  ago,  perhaps,  the  old  level  betrayed  on  the  hillsides 
to  this  day  was  awash.     Forty  feet  added  to  the  present  height 


282  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

of  the  water  would  change  the  shape  of  the  lake  curiously 
indeed. 

As  it  is,  perhaps  to  Tibetan  eyes  the  quagmires  that  repre- 
sent the  retreating  lake  have  their  special  value  too,  for  three 
miles  of  bog  separated  the  orderly  tents  of  our  camp  at  Nagartse 
from  the  thrice-holy  buildings  of  Samding  convent,  where  the 
reincarnated  Dorje  Phagmo,  or  pig-goddess,  bears  rule  over 
one  of  the  most  venerated  foundations  in  the  land.  While  we 
were  in  the  neighborhood  the  buildings  were  deserted,  but  the 
occupants  will  return  to  find  them  untouched.  Not  a  turquoise 
has  been  taken  from  their  shrines,  not  a  dainty  little  brass  image 
will  be  found  missing  from  their  inventories;  hardly  a  foot  has 
been  allowed  to  cross  the  threshold,  because  unconsciously  the 
lady  abbess  once  nursed  in  sickness  a  subject  of  Queen  Victoria. 
They  will  never  know  the  reason,  and  beyond  doubt  a  special 
miracle  will  soon  be  credited  to  account  for  the  stern  prohibi- 
tion which  saved  the  monastery  from  violation  of  any  kind. 

It  may  be  a  vain  piece  of  advice,  for  there  is  no  doubt  that 
even  now  as  I  write  Tibet  has  again  been  trebly  barred  against 
the  foreigner;  but  if  by  force  or  fraud  another  traveler  shall 
find  himself  at  Nagartse,  let  him  go  ten  miles  to  the  southeast 
and  climb  the  saddle  of  the  Ta  la. 

There  are  few  sights  in  the  world  like  that  which  is  seen 
from  the  peak  in  which  the  saddle  ends  to  the  east.  Below 
lie  both  the  outer  and  the  inner  lakes,  this  following  with  counter- 
indentations  the  in-and-out  windings  of  the  other's  shore-line. 
The  mass  and  color  of  the  purple  distance  is  Scotland  at  her  best 
— Scotland,  too,  in  the  slow  drift  of  a  slant- woofed  raincloud 
in  among  the  hills.  At  one's  feet  the  water  is  like  that  of  the 
Lake  of  Geneva.  But  the  tattered  outline  of  the  beach,  with  its 
projecting  lines  of  needle-rocks,  its  wide,  white,  curving  sand- 
pits, its  jagged  islets,  its  precipitous  spurs,  and,  above  all,  the 
mysterious  tarns  strung  one  beyond  another  into  the  heart  of 


THE   ADVANCE   TO   LHASA  283 

the  hills,  all  these  are  the  Yam-dok's  own,  and  not  another's.  If 
.you  are  lucky,  you  may  see  the  snowy  slopes  of  To-nang  gar- 
tered by  the  waters,  and  always  on  the  horizon  are  the  everlasting 
ice-fields  of  the  Himalayas,  bitterly  ringing  with  argent  the  sun 
and  color  of  the  still  blue  lake.  You  will  not  ask  for  the  added 
glories  of  a  Tibetan  sunset;  the  gray  spin  and  scatter  of  a  rain- 
threaded  after-glow,  or  the  tangled  sweep  of  a  thunder-cloud's 
edge  against  the  blue,  will  give  you  all  you  wish,  and  you  will 
have  seen  the  finest  view  in  all  this  strange  land. 

Here  and  there  along  the  shore  to  north  and  south  rise  half- 
ruined  castles  as  harmonious,  as  inevitable,  as  everything  else  in 
this  high  enchanted  valley.  There  they  stand,  foursquare,  red- 
dish-brown bulks  of  native  quarrying,  crumbling  everywhere  and 
sometimes  fallen,  now  laying  bare  the  long  abandoned  economy 
of  an  upper  story  through  a  shattered  corner,  now,  lower  down, 
betraying  the  emptiness  of  a  bastioned  courtyard  at  the  base  of 
the  tower.  The  rock-cresses  and  the  saxifrages  have  long  estab- 
lished themselves  between  the  crevices  of  the  stones,  and  on  their 
old,  worn  surfaces  the  somber  mosses  and  vivid  orange  and  black 
lichens  spread  themselves  in  the  pure  air  and  sunlight.  Overhead, 
among  the  beflagged  sheaves  at  the  corners  of  the  keep,  the  ravens 
hop  heavily  and  cry,  and  along  the  shore  the  seagulls  dip  and 
squeal. 

Hidden  behind  Pe-di  or  Nagartse  jong,  against  the  slope  of 
a  hill,  are  a  few  white,  straitened  hovels  in  tiers,  banded  myste- 
riously with  red  and  crowned  with  brown  cornices  and  broken 
parapets.  On  the  door  of  each  is  a  kicking  swastika  in  white,  and 
over  it  a  rude  daub  of  ball  and  crescent. 

At  the  street  corners  the  women  stand,  one  behind  another, 
peeping  and  curious.  Men,  too,  are  there,  who  stare  with  eyes 
that  cannot  understand.  Nowhere  in  Tibet  has  our  incursion 
meant  less  to  the  people  than  here,  up  at  the  Yam-dok  tso,  and 
one  feels  that  in  years  to  come  the  passing  and  repassing  beside 


284  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

the  holy  waters  of  the  unending  Hne  of  our  quick-stepping,  even- 
loaded  mules  and  tramping,  dust-laden  men  with  light-catching 
rifle  barrels,  will  only  take  its  proper  place  among  the  myriad 
other  and  equally  mysterious  legends  that  wrap  with  sanctity  the 
waters  of  this  loveliest  of  all  lakes. 

Nagartse  is  the  best-known  town  between  Gyantse  and  Lhasa ; 
it  is  placed  upon  a  neck  of  land,  which  joins  the  jong  to  the  hills 
behind.  The  rock  on  which  the  jong  stands  must  at  one  time  have 
been  lapped  by  the  waters  of  the  lake,  but  at  the  present  time  the 
Yam-dok  tso  has  retreated  so  far,  that  a  quashy  stretch  of  vivid 
green  quagmire  spreads  between  the  road  and  the  shore.  The 
jong  itself  is  of  no  great  interest.  It  is  the  usual  ramshackle  con- 
geries of  unsteady  walls  and  uneven  floors,  and,  except  the  rooms 
which  were  at  this  time  occupied  by  the  Ta  Lama,  and  afterward 
tenanted  by  Lieutenant  Moody,  who  was  left  in  command  of  the 
post,  two  small  chapels  are  the  only  rooms  which  are  still  rain- 
tight. As  I  have  said,  Samding  lies  five  miles  across  the  plain — 
five  miles  of  quaking  bog,  intersected  by  the  deep-cut  channel, 
whereby  part  of  the  waters  of  the  Karo  chu  are  led  into  the  lake. 
As  an  illustration  of  the  mistake  made  by  other  surveyors  in  as- 
serting that  the  lake  in  the  center  of  the  so-called  "  island  "  is 
500  feet  higher  than  that  of  the  Yam-dok  tso  itself,  it  may  be 
mentioned  that  the  Karo  chu  divides  itself  just  where  it  debouches 
into  the  plain,  and  one  section  glides  placidly  into  the  waters  of 
each  lake.  There  is,  as  a  matter  of  fact,  not  a  difference  of  six 
feet  in  the  level  of  the  two  waters. 

One  has  to  go  some  way  to  convince  oneself  that  the  Dumu  tso 
and  the  Yam-dok  tso  are  indeed  distinct  pieces  of  water.  Only 
a  narrow  neck  of  land,  a  hundred  yards  in  width,  divides  them, 
and  this  obstacle  cannot  be  seen  until  you  approach  very  near.  On 
the  top  of  a  promontory  hard  by,  Mr.  Claude  White  and  I  took 
a  series  of  photographs,  including  a  panoramic  view  of  the  lakes. 
These  photographic  excursions  had  a  special  interest  of  their  own. 


THE   ADVANCE   TO   LHASA  285 

At  the  wise  discretion  of  the  Indian  authorities,  the  transport  of 
the  column  was  burdened  to  the  extent  of  three  mules'  loads, 
with  the  large  13  by  10  camera  and  innumerable  plates.  Mr. 
White's  servants  have  become  experts  in  the  art  of  carrying  and 
setting  up  this  cumbersome  instrument,  and  Mr.  White  himself 
is  a  first-rate  photographer.  Sending  the  plates  back  to  India  was 
a  tedious  and  uncertain  process,  but  I  am  glad  to  hear  that  from 
this  cause  very  few  plates  were  broken  or  lost. 

As  I  have  said,  the  Ta  Lama  again  met  us  at  Nagartse  jong, 
and  with  him  were  the  Tungyig  Chempo  and  the  Chi-kyap  Kenpo. 
Their  position  had  now  become  desperate;  their  instructions  had 
been  from  the  beginning  to  stop  our  advance  to  Lhasa.  They 
were  given  no  powers  to  carry  on  final  negotiations.  The  views 
of  the  Dalai  Lama  were  repeated  to  them  in  one  unvarying  order : 
"  Get  these  English  out  of  my  country  again  at  once."  How  this 
was  to  be  done  they  neither  knew  nor  cared  in  Lhasa;  the  un- 
happy delegates  were  given  no  authority  to  make  a  concession  of 
any  kind,  and  they  knew  better  than  to  act  in  this  matter  on  their 
own  initiative.  One  would  have  thought  that  a  man  like  the  Dalai 
Lama  would  at  last  have  realized  that  he  was  dealing  with  an  op- 
ponent who  was  not  in  the  least  impressed  by  his  religious  pre- 
tensions. He  should  have  realized  that  at  last  we  were  in  earnest, 
and  whether  he  was  willing  or  not  to  come  to  any  definite  arrange- 
ment with  us  at  the  time,  he  should  at  least  have  sent  men  armed 
with  sufficient  authority  for  them  to  open  up  a  discussion,  which 
would  soon  have  shown  whether  it  was  wiser  or  not  for  the  La- 
maic  hierarchy  to  make  a  total  surrender  of  their  claims.  As  it 
was,  these  unhappy  men,  the  Ta  Lama,  the  Chi-kyap  Kenpo— 
and  here  the  Yu-tok  Shape  also— were  reduced  to  the  useless  ex- 
pedient of  repeating  a  parrot-cry  without  arguments  or  authority 
of  any  kind.  It  is  significant  that  at  one  moment  during  these 
negotiations  of  the  19th  of  July  the  Ta  Lama,  poor  old  man, 
burst  out  with  an  unveiled  threat.    He  said,  "  If  you  will  make  an 


286  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

agreement  elsewhere  we  will  observe  it ;  if  you  will  go  to  Lhasa, 
and  make  an  agreement  there,  you  may  get  it  signed,  but  we  will 
not  observe  it." 

During  one  of  these  meetings  a  skirmish  took  place  between 
Captain  Souter  and  his  mounted  infantry  and  the  armed  retinue 
of  the  delegates,  who,  in  defiance  of  an  agreement,  were  attempt- 
ing to  escape  and  give  information  of  our  numbers  and  composi- 
tion. The  Tibetan  officials  were  much  mortified  at  the  detection 
of  this  scheme. 

It  was  increasingly  apparent  that  Nature  had  come  to  the  as- 
sistance of  the  Tibetans'  determination  to  keep  their  country  iso- 
lated in  more  ways  than  by  mere  physical  obstacles.  How  could 
one  carry  on  negotiations  with  such  men  as  these ;  and,  in  the  cir- 
cumstances in  which  we  found  ourselves,  how  could  we  insure 
that  relations,  even  of  the  friendliest  sort,  would  continue  for  even 
a  year  after  our  departure  ?  General  Macdonald  made  no  secret 
of  his  personal  opinion  that  the  political  ends  of  the  expedi- 
tion could  be  better  arrived  at  by  instant  negotiation,  than 
by  carrying  out  the  letter  of  the  orders  which  had  been  re- 
ceived by  Colonel  Younghusband.  To  this  the  Colonel  could 
only  reply,  again  and  again,  that  even  were  he  of  Macdonald's 
opinion,  which  he  most  emphatically  was  not,  he  was  still  com- 
pelled to  carry  out  the  definite  orders  of  the  Government ;  he  was 
to  go  to  Lhasa,  and  make  a  treaty  there.  Simla  was  somewhat 
amused  at  this  spectacle.  As  a  rule,  it  is  with  the  utmost  diffi- 
culty that  a  political  Commissioner  can  restrain  the  military  aspi- 
rations of  his  escort,  and  generally  has  to  fall  back  upon  the  dis- 
tinct orders  of  the  Government,  to  compel  his  acquiescence  in  a 
non-military  solution  of  the  difficulties.  Here  the  roles  were  re- 
versed with  a  vengeance. 

At  Nagartse  jong  we  stayed  one  day,  and  on  the  21st  we 
moved  on  by  the  side  of  the  lake,  past  the  little  fishing  villages  of 


THE   ADVANCE   TO   LHASA  287 

Gya,  Tu,  and  Badi,^  to  the  Bridge  of  Good  Luck,  or  Kal-sang 
Sampa.  This  bridge  has  been  referred  to  by  Chandra  Das,  but 
his  description  of  it  as  an  embankment  more  than  100  yards  long 
is  wholly  inaccurate.  There  is  here  a  small  pond  of  a  level  some- 
what higher  than  the  lake,  and  divided  from  it  by  a  neck  of  land, 
with  one  sluice  gate  cut  through  it,  over  which  a  roughly  piled 
stone  causeway,  twenty  yards  long,  is  carried.  It  is  often  believed 
that  the  Rong  chu  runs  through  from  the  lake  into  the  Tsang-po. 
This  is  not  true,  for  there  Is  a  rising  fold  of  ground,  about  three 
miles  above  this  pond,  which  makes  a  watershed  between  the 
two.  Yarsig  lies  a  mile  west-north-west  of  the  Kal-sang  Sampa, 
but  it  was  not  visited  except  by  a  few  mounted  infantry.  It  is  a 
squalid  collection  of  huts  and  houses.  At  the  Bridge  of  Good 
Luck  we  encamped  after  a  march  of  twelve  miles  from  Nagartse. 
On  the  next  day,  the  22d,  a  short  march  of  five  miles  brought  us 
to  Pe-di  jong,  which  stands  prominently  on  the  very  edge  of  the 
lake,  just  where  the  mountainous  "  island  "  ^  approaches  most 
nearly  to  the  northern  shore,  Pe-di  jong  is  not  one  of  the  official 
fortresses  belonging  to  the  Tibetan  Government,  but  we  did  not 
discover  the  name  of  its  private  owner.  Like  so  many  other  Tibe- 
tan buildings,  this  one  is  fast  falling  to  pieces,  and  one  or  two 
small  demolitions,  necessitated  by  our  subsequent  use  of  the  place 
as  a  fortified  post,  will  probably  hurry  on  the  inevitable  ruin  of 
the  whole.  One  threads  one's  way  past  slippery  stones,  through 
which  the  nettles  rise  rankly,  skirting  a  pool  of  liquid  filth  by  get- 
ting close  under  the  wall,  then  up  some  slimy,  broken  steps  into 
the  darkness  of  a  passage,  wherein  you  stumble  along  till  a  gray- 
ish square  of  light  at  the  farther  end  shows  you  where  the  stairs 

*The  names  of  these  villages  as  they  appear  on  maps  are  entirely  inaccu- 
rate. On  my  return  journey  at  Nagartse  I  took  pains  to  find  out  the  real 
names  from  Lieutenant  Moody  (in  whose  district  they  all  lie),  as  he  had 
made  it  his  business  to  find  them  out  from  their  headmen. 

*  The  native  name  for  this  peninsula  is  "  Do-rang,"  or  "  stony  house." 


288  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

are  placed.  Tibetan  staircases  are  no  ordinary  things.  The  angle 
at  which  the  stairs  are  placed  is  somewhat  steeper  than  that  at 
which  an  English  ladder  is  ordinarily  used;  the  treads  are  long 
and  very  narrow  pieces  of  poplar  wood,  either  worn  into  a  slant, 
at  which  no  foothold  is  possible,  or  tipped  with  iron,  upon  which 
the  nails  in  one's  boots  slide  mercilessly.  The  only  handrail  is  a 
highly  polished  wooden  willow-pole,  which  slants  from  the  lowest 
step  at  an  angle  more  perpendicular  than  that  of  the  steps.  They 
are  more  difficult  to  come  down  than  to  go  up,  and  this  is  saying 
a  good  deal.  On  the  third  story  of  Pe-di  jong  are  the  living 
rooms,  the  only  really  habitable  ones  in  the  place ;  the  rest  of  the 
building  keeps  the  rain  out,  and  that  is  about  all.  Here,  however. 
Lieutenant  Dalmahoy,  with  a  company  of  Pathans,  was  left  in 
charge,  while  on  the  23d  the  force  moved  to  their  camping- 
ground,  a  mile  short  of  the  little  village  of  Trama-lung.  From 
this  point  the  road  over  the  Kamba  la  rises  abruptly  to  the  north ; 
the  road  beside  the  lake  presents  no  very  interesting  features,  and 
two  things  alone  arrested  our  attention.  The  first  was  a  curious 
example  of  the  cup  marks  which  indented  an  artificially  smoothed 
surface  at  shoulder  height  above  the  road,  just  where  it  doubled 
a  rocky  spur.  These  cup  marks  are  referred  to  later  as  a  char- 
acteristic of  Lhasa  also.  A  mile  and  a  half  further  on  we  found 
that  the  Tibetans  had  built  a  wall  across  the  road,  choosing  its  po- 
sition with  some  skill.  The  sharp-cut  fresh  turfs  with  which 
they  had  crowned  the  wall  and  a  little  house,  just  where  it  ter- 
minated over  the  lake,  proved  that  it  had  not  been  built  for  long. 
We  arrived  at  our  camping-ground  before  twelve  o'clock,  and  I 
went  up  to  the  summit  of  the  hills  which  divide  the  Yam-dok  tso 
from  the  basin  of  the  Tsang-po  in  order  that  I  might,  if  possible, 
catch  the  first  glimpse  of  the  Potala. 

Kawa-guchi,  the  Japanese  traveler,  reported  that  from  the 
Kamba  la  he  had  seen  the  palace,  and  the  villagers  of  Trama-lung 
proudly  claim  for  this  spot  the  first  sight  of  the  Forbidden  City. 


THE  ADVANCE  TO  LHASA  289 

There  can  be  no  question  of  the  direction  in  which,  if  at  all,  this 
first  glimpse  of  Lhasa  is  to  be  obtained.  Looking  carefully 
through  glasses,  I  saw  a  minute,  symmetrically  shaped  dot  of 
gray,  just  visible  over  one  of  the  intervening  spurs.  I  do  not 
know  to  this  day  whether  that  were  really  Lhasa  or  not.  It  was 
certainly  in  the  exact  position,  but  it  was  entirely  impossible  from 
that  distance  for  a  stranger  to  be  sure,  even  had  the  day  remained 
clear.  Afterward,  nothing  was  certainly  distinguishable.  There 
were  so  many  subsequent  misstatements  made  as  to  the  identity 
of  Potala,  that  I  would  not  do  more  than  suggest  to  another  trav- 
eler, following  upon  our  track  upon  a  clearer  day,  that  it  may  be 
worth  while  to  substantiate  or  refute  the  claims  of  the  villagers 
of  Trama-lung. 

The  remainder  of  the  day  was  spent  by  a  good  many  officers 
in  fishing.  At  Yarsig,  on  the  evening  of  the  21st,  the  waters  of 
the  lake  were  found  to  be  full  of  fish,  which  had  rashly  crowded 
into  the  shallows  by  the  shore,  and  were  easily  captured  by  the 
hand.  Major  Iggulden  and  Mr.  Vernon  Magniac  were  the  most 
industrious  fishermen  of  the  force,  and  it  may  be  news  to  some  of 
the  disciples  of  Izaak  Walton  that  in  Lhasa  these  two  men  habitu- 
ally caught  from  60  to  70  fish  in  an  afternoon.  These  fish  were 
generally  called  trout,  but  this  was  merely  a  convenient  mis- 
nomer. The  essential  feature  of  a  member  of  the  family  of 
Salmonidse  is  the  presence  of  dorsal  fins,  which  were  wanting 
in  these  trout-like  fish.  The  presence  of  minute  barbels  also  dis- 
proved their  claim  to  belong  to  the  salmon  tribe.  In  color  they 
varied.  Some  were  of  glittering  silver,  heavily  mottled  with 
splashes  of  rich  blue-black;  others  were  of  a  quieter  pattern  of 
greenish  and  yellowish  gray.  Their  bones  are  bifurcated  and 
innumerable,  and  the  flesh  was  consequently  hardly  worth  the 
trouble  of  eating. 

On  the  24th,  we  crossed  the  Kamba  la,  and  descended  3,000 
feet  into  the  valley  of  the  Tsang-po.    There  are  two  passes  over 


290  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

this  cup  edge  of  the  Yam-dok  tso.  The  other,  the  Nabso  la,  was 
used  by  the  troops  on  their  return  journey.  There  is  not  much  to 
choose  between  them,  but  the  ascent  of  the  Kamba  la  from  the 
Tsang-po  is  terribly  severe,  the  entire  rise  of  3,000  feet  being 
accomplished  in  about  five  miles.  From  a  halting  place  about  200 
feet  before  the  pass  is  reached  from  the  Yam-dok  tso,  a  wide  view 
can  be  had  of  the  lake  from  east  to  west,  and  I  suppose  that  few 
travelers,  even  the  most  unobservant,  have  ever  reached  this  last 
point  without  halting  to  look  at  the  magnificent  scene  at  their 
feet.  Trama-lung  lies  below  one  in  a  deep,  short  valley  of  which 
the  head  rests  against  the  barrier  of  the  Kamba  la  itself.  It  is 
a  plainly  built  little  cluster  of  flat  roofs,  bearing  every  sign  of 
poverty  and  insignificance.  To  right  and  left  of  it  sweeps  the  blue 
of  the  lake,  which  had  deepened  in  intensity  with  every  step  up- 
ward that  we  took.  Once  on  the  other  side  of  the  pass,  the  culti- 
vated fields  of  the  Tsang-po  valley  stretch  out  beneath  the  trav- 
eler on  either  side  of  the  sandy  river-bed,  intersected  with  its 
innumerable  channels.  The  ferry  by  which  we  had  to  cross  at 
Chak-sam  was  not  now  visible,  but  we  could  see  a  hide  boat  being 
slowly  manoeuvered  across  the  yellow  waters  of  the  great  river. 
The  road  to  Shigatse  branches  off  at  the  very  level  of  the  pass,  and 
,  curves  by  a  very  slight  gradient  to  the  west ;  its  course  is  invisible 
in  a  quarter  of  a  mile  behind  a  projecting  spur. 

The  track  to  the  Tsang-po  descends  abruptly  to  the  little  vil- 
lage of  Kamba-partsi,  where,  compared  with  those  we  had  left 
behind,  the  greater  prosperity  and  comfort  of  the  buildings  on  the 
shores  of  the  Tsang-po  and  its  tributaries  were  at  once  apparent. 
Poplars,  willows,  and  large  thorn  trees  dotted  the  lower  slopes  of 
the  valley,  and  there  were  several  cultivated  fields,  lying  imme- 
diately round  the  hamlet. 

As  we  came  down  the  slope  of  the  valley  we  could  see  more 
closely  the  body  of  the  great  river  which  barred  our  passage.  It 
was  a  fast-running  yellow  stream,  swirling  even  then  with  deep- 


THE  ADVANCE  TO  LHASA  291 

toned  irritation  round  the  jutting  rocky  promontories  of  the  shore, 
and  tearing  away  at  the  crumbHng  cliffs  of  sand  within  which  it 
was  confined.  The  volume  of  water,  even  at  this  date,  was  con- 
siderable, for  though  narrow  the  main  channel  is  very  deep.  But 
it  was  not  so  much  the  existing  state  of  the  river  that  gave  us 
some  prospect  of  anxiety,  as  its  obvious  liability  to  an  enormous 
expansion ;  the  sand  islets  and  eyots  that  parceled  out  the  waters 
of  the  Tsang-po  were  bare  of  vegetation,  and  it  was  easy  to  see 
that  in  a  few  weeks'  time  they  would  be  swept  a  foot  deep  by  the 
swollen  waters,  which  even  then  were  gathering  strength,  far  to 
the  west,  beside  Lake  Mansarowar. 

Kamba-partsi  is  a  prettily  placed  little  village  under  trees  of 
considerable  age;  the  sentinel  is  a  double-willow  of  great  anti- 
quity, writhen  into  the  shape  of  an  8,  keeping  guard  at  the  en- 
trance of  the  hamlet.  Lower  down,  divided  from  the  water's 
edge  by  a  level  strip  of  sand,  was  a  rectangular  plantation  of  wil- 
low-trees with  a  low  wall  running  round  it.  Here  the  camps  of 
the  Mission  and  of  the  headquarters  of  the  escort  were  pitched; 
outside  there  is  a  more  than  usually  elaborate  camping-ground  for 
their  Holinesses  when  traveling.  The  altar  and  reredos  are  of 
adobe,  set  up  facing  the  ravine  down  which  the  Kamba  la  descent 
drops,  with  its  sanctuary  in  front,  carpeted  with  a  neat  cobble  of 
white  quartzite,  edged  with  raw  splinters  of  basalt.  Inside  the 
inclosure  the  most  striking  things  were  the  cockchafers;  I  have 
never  seen  so  many  cockchafers  in  my  life ;  they  lay  in  thousands, 
either  dying  on  the  ground  beneath  the  trees,  or  clinging,  like  dis- 
eased growths  of  pink  and  gray,  to  the  branches  of  the  pollarded 
willows  above.  When  they  flew  there  was  a  flash  of  pink  under- 
wing,  and  the  sudden  extinction  of  the  color  when  they  alighted 
on  the  self-tinted  ground  made  their  disappearance  almost  un- 
canny. They  buzz  round  and  round  the  trees  during  the  sunset, 
with  the  note  of  a  thrashing  machine,  and  make  a  clumsy  little 
holocaust  of  themselves  in  the  cooking  fires  and,  alas!  in  the 


292  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

cooking  pots  as  well.  Here  General  Macdonald,  who  had  been 
sick  for  a  long  time,  was  taken  seriously  ill  during  the  afternoon, 
but  he  pulled  himself  together  for  an  advance  on  the  following 
day. 

Sunset  over  the  Tsang-po  from  Kamba-partsi  was  a  magnifi- 
cent sight.  The  valley  was  closed  in  to  the  west  by  two  snow- 
capped mountains,  the  last  northern  promontories  of  the  Nichi- 
kang-sang  range.  Below  them,  as  the  orange  of  the  sky  deepened, 
the  conformation  of  the  rock  was  lost  in  a  veil  of  purple  gloom, 
and  the  river  ran  from  beneath  their  feet,  a  perfect  mirror  of  the 
deepening  colors  of  the  west.  Muddy  water  will  always  give  you 
a  truer  reflected  color  than  a  clear  running  stream,  for  the  same 
reason,  no  doubt,  which  enables  a  black-backed  piece  of  glass  to  be 
used  as  a  mirror.  Anyhow,  it  is  so,  and  the  brilliancy  of  the 
Tsang-po  might  almost  have  been  taken  for  a  gash  clean  through 
the  earth,  meeting  the  sunset  again  beneath  the  distant  barriers  of 
rock,  for  this  vivid  light  on  the  face  of  the  water  ceased  with  a 
sharp  line  at  a  sudden  rapid  half  a  mile  away,  and  became  just  a 
swirling  river.  Here  the  water  became  indistinguishable  from  the 
land  until  it  was  almost  at  our  feet,  and  then  it  had  lost  almost  all 
the  charm  of  water,  except  its  sound  and  motion.  The  snow  on 
the  hills  turned  complementary  colors  in  contrast  to  the  deepening 
carmine  behind  them.  Clouds,  touched  with  orange-fire,  ranked 
themselves  a  mile  above  the  earth,  forming  a  glowing  canopy  all 
the  way  to  where  the  sun  was  setting.  In  England  the  effect  of  a 
sunset  is  generally  of  two  dimensions  only ;  at  its  best  it  does  but 
rear  itself  up  against  the  sky,  a  blazing  curtain  of  dissolving  color. 
But  in  these  intensely  clear  altitudes,  the  fact  can  be  well  per- 
ceived that  the  sunset  effect  is  really  created  by  serried  ranks  of 
the  lower  edges  of  illuminated  clouds,  each  hanging  motionless 
by  an  immutable  barometric  law,  at  the  same  appointed  height. 
They  are,  in  fact,  like  the  flies  and  floats  of  a  theater  sky.    J.  W. 


THE  ADVANCE  TO  LHASA  293 

M.  Turner,  probably  as  a  result  of  his  travels,  was  the  first  painter 
to  recognize  this  atmospheric  truth.  At  last,  as  one  watched,  the 
crimson  footlights  of  the  west  were  turned  down,  and  one  found 
that  half  a  hundred  stars  were  already  blinking  whitely  in  the 
gray-blue  depths. 

On  the  next  day  we  went  on  to  Chak-sam  ferry,  a  distance 
of  about  six  miles.  The  valley  of  the  Tsang-po  is  different 
indeed  from  what  one  had  been  given  to  expect.  Instead  of  a 
full  and  racing  sweep  of  water,  cutting  its  way,  like  the  southern 
Himalayan  streams,  through  a  densely  forested  gorge,  the  yellow 
volume,  almost  without  a  ripple,  swerves  and  divides  itself 
across  and  between  a  mile-wide  stretch  of  sand,  bordered  on 
either  side  by  a  broad  strip  of  well-cultivated  fields  of  barley, 
wheat,  and  peas.  Here  and  there  are  openings  between  the  hills 
dotted  with  the  white  and  blue  of  the  surrounding  houses,  and 
encroached  upon  by  the  wastes  of  billowy  sand,  which  the  tide 
at  first,  and  the  wind  afterward,  have  banked  and  shelved  against 
the  base  of  the  hills.^  Beside  the  cool  lush  greenery  of  the 
road,  the  whitening  barley  fields  were  edged  with  rank  growths 
of  thistles  and  burdock,  and  "  black-veined  whites "  and 
"  orange-tips  "  fluttered  over  the  opened  dog-roses.  Where  the 
vegetation  ceased,  the  arid  waste  of  triturated  granite  running 
up  to  the  mountain  buttresses  is  dotted  with  a  kind  of  mimosa 
which  seems  rarely  to  obtain  a  height  of  more  than  two  or  three 
feet,  but  is  useful  in  binding  together  the  shifting  sands  of  the 
river  bank. 

Chak-sam  is  so  called  because  of  the  iron  bridge  which  was 
made  many  years  ago  to  span  the  deepest  and  narrowest  chan- 
nel of  the  river;  the  chains  are  all  that  now  remain,  but  these 
are  magnificent  enough  to  deserve  a  moment's  notice.     Prince 

*  Mr.  Hayden,  the  geologist  of  the  Mission,  is  of  opinion  that  these  enormous 
blankets  of  sand  are  due  to  the  local  disintegration  of  the  hillsides,  and  that 
they  remain  in  situ  till  they  fall  or  are  blown  away. 


294  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

Tang-tong  *  put  up  this  bridge  in  the  fifteenth  century.  It  con- 
sists of  four  heavy  chains  of  links,  which  at  a  guess,  I  should 
say,  were  each  eight  inches  in  length;  the  span  of  the  bridge 
is,  approximately,  200  feet,  and  in  mid-stream  it  descends  upon 
an  island  rock,  covered  with  thick  willows,  which  in  the  dry 
season  stands  on  the  edge  of  the  permanent  river-bed ;  from  this 
rock  to  the  northern  shore  a  stone  causeway  funs  slant-wise, 
which  for  more  than  half  the  year  is  free  of  water,  but  now  the 
river  made  a  weir  of  it,  pouring  over  it  in  a  dirty,  clouded 
stream,  and  you  might  hear  the  roar  of  it  at  the  ferry  half  a 
mile  up  the  river.  At  the  shore  end  the  abutments  and  anchor- 
ages rise  at  the  foot  of  a  tidy-looking  monastery,  set  among 
the  steep  rocks  of  the  basalt  hill,  here  cut  and  painted  with  raw 
images  in  white  and  blue,  daubed  with  raddle,  crested  with 
chortens,  and  flagged  sheaves  of  carving  innumerable  with  the 
inevitable  om  mani  padme  hum.  The  bridge  itself  is  gone,  only 
the  chains  remain;  slings  and  footway  alike  have  disappeared, 
but  there  is  scarcely  a  sign  of  rust  or  clogging  to  be  seen  on  the 
iron. 

The  Tibetans  themselves  have  long  been  accustomed  to  rely 
upon  the  ferry.  In  their  retreat  from  their  southern  and  western 
positions,  they  had  neglected  to  destroy  the  two  ferry-boats, 
to  our  great  advantage.  It  is  difficult  to  imagine  what  we  should 
have  done  without  them.  Each  of  these  great  arks  is  an  ob- 
long lighter,  forty  feet  by  twelve,  with  a  four-foot  freeboard, 
and  a  quaintly  carved  horse's  head  at  the  bows.  The  transport 
of  the  troops  across  the  river  was  enormously  hastened  by  the 
device  used  by  Captain  Sheppard.  He  turned  these  two  boats 
into  swinging  bridges,  by  the  aid  of  stout  ropes  running  on  a 

*  This  learned  pillar  of  the  Church  was  long  averse  to  encountering  the  pit- 
falls and  delusions  of  the  flesh.  He  therefore  remained  for  sixty  years  in 
gremio  matris  cogitating  upon  the  vanity  of  worldly  things.  Eventually  it 
occurred  to  him  that  his  inaction  was  causing  serious  inconvenience  to 
another,  and  he  consented  to  be  born.  The  whole  story  is  a  bitter  but  un- 
conscious satire  upon  the  selfishness  of  Lamaism. 


THE  ADVANCE  TO  LHASA  295 

carrier  backward  and  forward  along  a  steel  wire  hawser,  which 
he  here  threw  across  the  120  yards  of  whirling  and  swollen 
brown  water.  In  this  way  the  interminable  waste  of  time,  caused 
by  the  necessary  drift  down  stream  of  the  big  boats  in  their 
passages  across,  was  prevented,  and  what  had  previously  taken 
an  hour — with  occasional  intervals  of  three  hours,  during  which 
the  boat  had  lumbered  two  miles  down  stream,  and  had  to  be 
painfully  retrieved  and  towed  back— now  took  but  twenty  min- 
utes for  the  return  journey.  The  mules  were  swum  across 
under  Captain  Moore's  charge,  half  a  mile  higher  up  stream. 

On  the  second  day  the  force  suffered  the  greatest  loss  which 
overtook  them  throughout  the  entire  expedition.  General  Mac- 
donald,  remembering  his  Central  African  experiences,  had  pro- 
vided rafts,  supported  at  either  end  by  Berthon  boats ;  these  car- 
ried ten  men  and  their  kits  at  a  time,  but  owing  to  the  velocity 
of  the  current,  which  caused  a  series  of  whirlpools,  gyrating 
in  a  curve  from  the  corner  of  the  bluff  under  cover  of  which 
the  ferry-boats  came  to  rest,  more  freeboard  was  here  needed 
than  in  still  water,  and  after  the  sixth  or  seventh  passage  had 
been  hazardously  but  safely  performed,  the  nose  of  one  of  the 
boats  was  caught  in  the  stream,  and  before  one  could  have 
believed  it  possible,  the  whole  raft,  water-logged,  with  its  oc- 
cupants clinging  to  it,  was  floating  helplessly  down  stream. 
All  except  two  men  caught  hold  of  the  raft  and  were  ultimately 
saved ;  but  one  of  these  two  was  no  less  important  an  officer  than 
Major  Bretherton;  he  was  a  good  swimmer,  and  made  one  or 
two  desperate  efforts  to  keep  from  going  under :  he  was  seen  to 
go  down  twice,  and  from  that  moment  he  was  never  seen  again. 
It  is  a  difficult  thing  adequately  to  assess  the  loss  caused  by  his 
death.  The  department  of  which  he  was  the  brilliant  chief  was 
that  upon  which  the  success  of  this  expedition  almost  wholly 
depended,  for  supply  and  transport  were  as  necessary  to  the  force 
as  the  very  air  they  breathed.     Cool,  capable,  and  untiring,  a 


296  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

thorough  believer  in  the  necessity  for  personal  superintendence 
of  the  smallest  detail,  Major  Bretherton's  thorough  grasp  of 
every  department  of  supply,  and  his  unfailing  willingness  to 
help  the  individual,  had  long  before  earned  for  him  the  admira- 
tion of  every  one  and  the  personal  gratitude  of  most  men.  Only 
a  few  minutes  before  I  had  met  him  walking  up  to  the  landing- 
stage.  I  asked  him  where  he  was  going,  and  he  told  me  that 
he  was  going  to  make  a  search  for  food-stuffs  in  the  little  house 
which  could  be  seen  a  mile  away  on  the  other  side  of  the  river. 
It  seemed  to  me,  under  the  circumstances,  a  needless  exertion  for 
the  chief  of  so  large  and  so  well-managed  a  department.  He 
only  answered,  with  that  curious  half-stammer  with  which  he 
often  began  a  sentence,  "  They  always  miss  a  few  maunds  if  one 
is  not  there  oneself;  I  had  better  go  over."  This  was  the  last 
I  saw  of  him,  and  I  should  like  to  record  here  my  deep  personal 
regret  at  the  death  of  one  whom  I  had  come  to  admire  and  like 
most  unfeignedly.  In  him  was  lost  the  most  brilliant  of  the 
younger  service-corps  chiefs  in  the  Indian  army. 


CHAPTER   XVI 

THE  LAST   STAGE 

ON  the  third  day  after  our  arrival  at  Chak-sam  Colonel 
Younghusband  and  the  Mission  crossed  the  river,  and 
took  up  their  abode  in  the  garden  of  a  little  house  of  which  the 
local  name  is  Pome-tse.  The  work  of  transporting  the  entire 
force  across  the  river  occupied  a  week,  and  during  that  time  I 
made  one  or  two  expeditions  to  interesting  points  beside  the 
river.  On  the  28th  of  July,  O'Connor  and  I  rode  out  to  Ta-ka-re, 
about  two  and  a  half  miles  along  the  north  bank  of  the  river 
to  the  west;  the  road  ran  through  barley  fields  dotted  with  for- 
get-me-nots and  plantations  of  willows  and  poplars  until  we 
came  in  sight  of  the  large  pyramidal  chorten  which  stands  just 
outside  the  village  of  Tse-gang-tse.  This  is  a  curious  structure 
built  up  of  receding  tiers  and  crowned  with  a  large  drum.  No 
one  was  able  to  tell  us  anything  about  its  origin,  but  it  is  in- 
teresting because  of  a  slight  resemblance  to  the  Pyramid  of 
Saqqara.^  It  is  called  a  Pum-ba  locally,  and  I  noticed  that  in 
the  innumerable  reiterations  of  om  mani  padme  hum  round  the 
structure  the  conventional  order  of  colors  was  varied  in  one  par- 
ticular, the  second  syllable  being  a  dull  apricot  instead  of  green. 
Otherwise  it  was  normal. 

We  rode  on  under  the  white  wall  of  the  village,  passing  a 
splendid  walnut-tree  standing  just  where  a  ravine  flawed  with 

*  One  of  the  interesting  things  in  Tibet  is  the  frequency  with  which  one  may- 
see  in  almost,  if  not  entirely,  contemporary  history  the  existence  and  de- 
velopment of  processes  and  ideas  which  in  other  parts  of  the  world  are  almost 
prehistoric. 

297 


298  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

slowly  trickling  water  afforded  shelter  to  a  rich  profusion  of 
flowers  and  ferns.  A  mile  on  we  mounted  a  short-cut  over  a 
little  spar  of  quartzite,  which  here  deflects  the  road,  and  came 
down  within  sight  of  two  extensive  monasteries  built  up  against 
the  rock.  At  their  feet  was  a  walled-in  inclosure,  half-swampy, 
half-firm  grass,  in  which  were  growing  some  of  the  most  enor- 
mous willow  trunks  I  have  ever  seen.  These  trees  must  be  ' 
of  immense  age.  Without  seeing  them,  it  is  difficult  to  form  an 
idea  of  the  unusual  size  which  these  writhing  and  gnarled  mon- 
sters attain.  We  visited  the  Ta-ka-re  gompa,  the  entrance  of 
which  immediately  faces  the  willow  grove,  and  were  well  re- 
ceived by  the  little  company  of  monks.  It  is  the  smaller  of  the 
two  monasteries,  and  does  not  perhaps  differ  very  much  in 
construction  or  in  ornamentation  from  the  •  usual  Tibetan 
lamasery.  The  Umzi,  or  manager,  took  us  over  the  build- 
ings. They  are  not  of  very  great  interest,  the  place  being 
somewhat  overshadowed  by  the  reincarnate  divinity  of  Jang- 
kor-yang-tse  next  door,  but  there  was  one  particularly  interest- 
ing room,  in  which  were  collected  some  of  the  older  or  disused 
objects  of  ritual  in  the  monastery.  These  they  were  perfectly 
willing  to  sell,  and  we  both  secured  two  or  three  objects.  In 
front  of  the  seat  of  the  Kenpo  or  Abbot  was  a  very  handsome 
skull  bowl  set  in  turquoise-ornamented  silver,  the  finest,  I  think, 
that  I  ever  saw  in  Tibet;  near  by  was  a  European  looking-glass 
which  the  Tibetans  regarded  with  especial  pride;  and  there  was 
also  one  of  the  cinerary  chortens  in  which  the  mortal  remains 
of  only  reincarnate  lamas  are  allowed  to  be  preserved.  This  was 
of  silver. 

It  is  never  entirely  satisfactory,  as  no  doubt  the  reader  will 
have  discovered  by  this  time,  to  ask  a  Tibetan  too  closely  as 
to  the  meaning  of  some  of  the  stranger  sights  in  a  gompa;  our 
own  lama  confessed  himself  beaten  when  he  was  asked  what  was 
the  meaning  of  some  objects  arranged  in  the  innermost  sanctuary 


THE  LAST  STAGE  299 

here  behind  a  pane  of  glass  of  considerable  size.  In  this,  the 
most  sacred  position  in  the  temple,  it  was  certainly  surprising 
to  find,  after  pulling  aside  the  dirty  and  greasy  katags  which 
hung  over  the  front  of  the  shrine,  three  irregularly  shaped  pieces 
of  common  rock  and  a  wasps'  nest.  All  four  were  crowned  with 
gold  and  turquoise,  and  from  the  interior  of  each  crown  rose  a 
torma,  a  marvel  of  dexterity  and  patience.  We  had  tea  with 
the  Umzi,  the  Abbot  being  absent  in  Lhasa,  and  came  back  in 
the  company  of  two  cheerful  lamas,  who  were  carrying  our  pur- 
chases. We  arrived  back  at  Pome-tse,  or  North  Camp  as  it  is 
called  on  the  military  maps,  in  time  to  join  the  Mission  mess 
at  dinner  out  in  the  open  air  under  the  trees.  I  doubt  whether 
very  many  people  have  ever  before  deliberately  chosen  to  dine 
out  of  doors  at  an  altitude  of  12,600  feet. 

On  the  30th  of  July,  as  the  passage  of  the  river  was  still  delay- 
ing us,  O'Connor  and  I  went  out  again  on  the  same  road  to  pay 
a  visit  to  the  larger  monastery  next  door,  Jang-kor-yang-tse. 
This  is  a  far  more  pretentious  establishment  than  its  neighbor; 
as  I  have  said,  it  boasts  the  proud  distinction  of  having  an  in- 
carnation of  its  own,  and  we  were  lucky  enough  to  find  his 
Saintship  at  home.  We  went  up  to  an  open  courtyard  in  front 
of  the  main  entrance  of  the  gompa.  Immediately  facing  this 
was  the  usual  frescoed  arcade  and  overhead  a  great  siris  tree, 
a  species  of  acacia,  which  the  Tibetans  call  yom-hor}  Inlaid 
in  the  courtyard  in  front  of  the  temple  was  a  boldly  designed 
swastika.  The  bosses  and  ring-plates  of  the  doors  of  the  gompa 
were  of  the  finest  filigree  work,  and  the  design  and  finish  of  the 
great  key  of  iron  and  inlaid  silver  was  remarkably  good;  it  was 

*The  last  syllable  of  this  name  contains  an  unusual  sound  in  Tibetan 
speech ;  it  is  a  deep  and  prolonged  note,  and  is  found  again  in  such  words  as 
Jo,  the  great  golden  idol  of  Lhasa,  and  in  towo,  meaning  "  terrible."  I  have, 
perhaps,  been  inconsistent  in  rendering  the  sound  in  the  former  word  by  a 
single  letter  and  doubling  it  in  the  latter,  but  "  towo  "  is  so  constantly  used 
by  writers  upon  Tibetan  ecclesiology  that  I  have  preferred  not  to  alter  it. 


300  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

about  1 8  inches  in  length.  Inside  the  temple  one  noticed  par- 
ticularly the  profusion  of  hanging  katags  and  gyan-tsen.  The 
place  resembled  an  alley  in  a  Chinese  market,  so  obscured  was 
it  with  hanging  cloths.  Among  them  I  noticed  a  singularly  fine 
tang-ka,  the  finest  in  workmanship  that  I  had  seen.^  In  a  wide 
and  high  dark  court  behind  it,  divided  in  two  by  a  half-floor, 
was  sitting  a  gigantic  Buddha.  He  was  probably  made  of 
clay,  but  the  surface  was  finely  finished  and  gilded  as  successfully 
as  if  it  had  been  made  of  copper.  Over  the  huge  shoulders 
costly  silks  were  thrown,  and  it  was  singularly  effective  to  en- 
counter the  impassive  gaze  of  those  inscrutable  eyes  gleaming 
out  in  sharp  relief  against  the  surrounding  darkness;  the  entire 
image  was,  perhaps,  thirty  feet  in  height;  in  some  respects  it 
resembled  the  inclosed  Buddhas  of  Japan,  and,  perhaps,  by  sheer 
contrast,  reminded  one  of  that  most  effective  image  in  the  world, 
the  great  bronze  Buddha  in  the  sun  among  the  pine-trees  of 
Kama-kura.  After  making  a  thorough  inspection  of  all  the 
buildings,  we  leaned  over  the  parapet  of  the  flat  roof  beneath 
a  gilded  cupola  and  let  our  eyes  run  up  and  down  the  river, 
which  here  is  seen  more  splendidly  than  from  any  other 
place. 

We  had  tea  with  the  Lama.  He  told  us  the  story  of  his  life, 
and  it  is  not  without  interest.  He  said  that  it  was  a  long  time 
before  his  sanctity  was  recognized.  He  spoke  in  a  low,  sweet 
voice,  and  I  am  not  certain  that  there  was  not  a  tinkle  of  humor 
to  be  detected  now  and  then.  His  earliest  remembrances  were 
unfortunate;  he  was  then  as  a  child  attached  to  Penam  monas- 
tery, twenty  miles  west  of  Gyantse,  and  his  life  was  made  so  mis- 
erable there  by  the  brutality  of  the  lamas  that,   while  still  a 

*  The  size  of  these  tang-kas  varies  greatly,  but  few  are  more  than  eight 
feet  in  length;  they  are  generally  protected  by  one,  two,  or  even  three  cur- 
tains of  thin  tussore  silk,  the  outer  one  being  of  curious  but  characteristic 
coloring.  In  rainbow  tints,  merging  imperceptibly  one  into  another,  some  of 
the  "  eight  sacred  emblems  "  are  mistily  indicated. 


THE  MOUNTAINS  THAT  SURROUND  LHASA 

Viewed  from  the  Jong-kor-yangtse 


CHAK-SAM  MONASTERY 

Showing  the  cable  for  the  ferryboat  to  the  opposite  bank  of  the  river 


THE  LAST  STAGE  301 

boy,  he  ran  away  and  went  to  Lhasa.  He  must  have  been  a  boy 
of  character  and  audacity,  for  such  insubordination  as  that  is 
almost  inconceivable  in  a  lamaic  acolyte.  Arrived  in  Lhasa, 
he  attached  himself  to  a  doctor,  and  after  some  years  of  appren- 
ticeship he  came  to  practise  in  this  village  of  Jang-kor-yang-tse. 
Three  years  ago,  tired  of  the  small  scope  which  this  little  village 
afforded  him  in  his  profession,  he  had  intended  to  return  to 
Lhasa.  The  lamas,  with  whom  he  was  on  the  friendliest  terms, 
were  in  despair  at  the  thought  of  losing  his  services.  In  Tibet 
there  are  ways  and  means  unknown  to  western  nations,  and  as 
the  succession  of  incarnations  in  this  gompa  happened  then  to 
be  in  abeyance,  a  hurried  despatch  was  sent  to  Lhasa,  with  the 
result  that  our  friend  was,  to  his  own  intense  amazement,  hailed, 
in  his  twenty-fourth  year,  as  the  long-lost  successor  of  the  Bo- 
disats  of  Jang-kor-yang-tse.  Sitting  cross-legged  on  his  little 
dais  in  front  of  the  square  latticed  windows  which  kept  the 
bright  heads  of  hollyhocks  from  falling  into  the  room,  he  told 
us  his  story,  and  I  confess  I  wondered  at  the  time  whether  he 
were  not,  even  then,  yearning  for  his  old  life  of  less  sanctity  and 
greater  freedom.  He  explained  that  he  had  intended  to  pay  a 
visit  of  courtesy  to  Colonel  Younghusband,  but  had  been  re- 
strained through  fear  of  the  Lhasan  Government.  Turning  to 
O'Connor,  he  asked,  with  unaffected  simplicity,  "  Tell  me,  un- 
der which  government  am  I?  Are  the  English  or  the  Tibetans 
lords  of  this  valley?  " 

During  the  interview  a  dozen  of  the  senior  lamas  crowded 
the  end  of  the  room,  and  two  of  the  younger  ones  busied  them- 
selves hospitably  by  filling  our  tea-cups  after  every  draught. 
O'Connor  assured  them  they  had  nothing  to  fear  from  our 
troops  so  long  as  they  attended  to  their  religious  duties ;  he  ex- 
plained to  them  exactly  what  we  needed  and  were  ready  to  pay 
for  in  the  matter  of  provisions,  and  to  each  succeeding  sentence 
the  listening  crowd  of  monks  bent  forward  with  hands  upon 


302  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

their  knees,  and  chorused  the  one  cry  of  obedience  and  respect 
in  Tibet,  "  La-lis,  la-lis." 

We  returned  to  Pome-tse,  watching  the  blue  smoke  drifting 
across  the  river  from  the  now  dwindling  encampment  by  Chak- 
sam.  There  was  but  one  more  day  of  waiting,  and  that  I  spent 
in  reading  lazily  under  the  shadow  of  the  trees  in  a  plantation 
two  hundred  yards  up  the  river-flat  from  the  house.  The  place 
was  like  an  English  wood,  except  that  big  water-worn  boulders 
emerged  here  and  there  through  the  grass.  Forget-me-not  and 
hemlock  bloomed  carelessly  under  the  tall  poplars,  and  homely 
"  meadow-browns  "  spread  their  wings  upon  the  dark-blue  dead 
nettles;  all  round,  outside  the  walls  containing  this  little  wood, 
the  wheat  fields  rustled  silkily  in  the  breeze,  and  the  hum  of  bees 
murmured  drowsily  in  the  pauses  of  the  ringdoves'  urgent  sug- 
gestions that  two  cows  might  as  well  be  taken  as  one.  It  was 
strangely  English,  and  from  that  time  till  I  once  more  regained 
the  high  grazing-grounds  of  the  Lake,  I  became  more  and  more 
used  to  finding  the  least  expected  sights  and  sounds  of  England 
among  these  lonely  uplands.  Wild  carrots  grew  in  rank  pro- 
fusion, looking  up  to  the  white  undersides  of  the  leaves  of  the 
poplars,  and  round  a  raw  country  altar — Pan's  very  own,  all 
sods  and  turf — Michaelmas  daisies  starred  the  grass.  The  roofs 
of  a  white  farm-house  a  quarter  of  a  mile  away  rose  en  echelon 
through  the  foliage.  The  house  was  made  of  the  usual  sun- 
dried  brick,  for  it  is  not  possible  to  use  the  round  alluvial  pebbles 
of  the  spot  for  more  responsible  work  than  a  field  boundary; 
their  shape  denies  them  stability  and  cement  is  unknown. 
Patches  of  golden  light  checkered  the  turf  under  the  willows, 
and  here  and  there  a  tiny  five-starred  blue  passion-flower  climbed 
the  stouter  plants,  and  a  common  "blue"  chased  his  dowdy 
spouse,  zigzagging  a  foot  above  the  grass. 

This  quiet  little  elysium  was  owned  by  the  Jong-pen  of  Na- 
gartse,  a  man  of  great  importance  and  brutality.    Upon  our  ar- 


THE  LAST  STAGE  303 

rival  all  his  servants  and  serfs  implored  us  as  one  man  to  take 
this  opportunity  of  cutting  off  his  head. 

We  set  off  again  on  the  31st,  and  welcome  indeed  were  the 
cheery  war-cries  of  the  Sikhs  and  Gurkhas  as  they  set  their  feet 
upon  the  road  again.*  We  moved  on  to  the  east  along  the  north- 
ern bank  of  the  Tsang-po,  threading  through  fields  of  grain  and 
sometimes  through  villages  nestling  among  trees.  Far  across  the 
river  in  the  long  distances  there  were  heaped  up  sand-drifts, 
nine  hundred  feet  high,  against  the  mountain  precipices,  and  now 
and  then  a  slow  dust  rose  from  them  toward  a  white  silver 
slant  of  threaded  rain,  caught  like  a  skein  of  spun  silk  in  front 
of  the  heavy  indigo  clouds.  Ten  minutes  later  the  storm  would 
come  to  us  also,  but  passed  as  suddenly  as  it  came. 

Here  the  signs  which  befit  the  last  stages  of  a  pilgrim's  road 
were  beginning  to  increase  in  number  and  in  beauty.  It  was 
not  merely  that,  as  always  in  Tibet,  one  found  beside  a  village, 
at  a  cleft  in  the  rock-side,  at  the  crossing  of  a  stream,  on  every 
place  which  looks  a  likely  home  of  devils,  a  rain-washed  string 
of  flags,  or  a  gaily  decked  brush  of  ten-foot  willow  sprigs,  but 
from  here  until  its  end,  besides  the  great  Buddhas  cut  deep  into 
the  point  of  each  spur,  round  or  over  which  it  drives  its  stony 
course,  innumerable  mantras  are  cut  in  light  relief  upon  every 
offering-stone  along  the  road.  "  Om  mani  padme  hum  " ;  the 
monotonous  ejaculation  seemed  to  cry  out  from  rock  to  rock— 
"This  is  the  way  of  salvation;  by  this  alone  shall  you  escape 
from  earth.* 

*  The  Sikhs'  war-cry,  raised  in  chorus  by  the  entire  company  as  the  first 
foot  is  advanced,  is  as  follows:— Wa  guru  ji  ka  khalsa!  Seri  wa  guru  ji  ki 
futti!  Sut  seri  akhal !  {Hail,  God  of  the  liberated!  Victory  to  the  holy  ones! 
My  body  is  to  thee,  O  God!) 

The  Gurkhas'  adjuration  is :— Seri  Ghurkh'  Nath  baba  ki  jai.  {In  the  name 
of  our  holy  father  Ghurkh'  Nath,  victory!) 

*  An  occasional  sequence  of  colors  for  the  six  syllables  of  this  mantra  at 
Chusul,  and  later  on  also  at  Ne-tang,  is  white,  blue,  yellow,  green,  red,  and 
black;  but  from  continuous  notes  I  am  able  to  say  that  white,  green,  yellow,. 


304  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

Before  we  reached  the  point  which  hides  Chusul,  Gonkar 
<^'ong,  where  the  Sinchen  Lama  was  done  to  death,  was  conspicu- 
ous on  a  little  bluff  five  or  six  miles  down  stream,  and  the  sight 
of  it  brought  tears  to  the  eyes  of  the  Shebdung  Lama.  However, 
we  came  no  nearer  to  it.  Our  course  turned  off  to  the  left  here, 
and  we  soon  passed  through  the  little  green-clad  village  of  Chu- 
sul. Here  the  Ta  Lama  awaited  the  arrival  of  Colonel  Young- 
husband,  who,  with  ever-ready  patience,  granted  him  another, 
but,  of  course,  a  fruitless  interview. 

Chusul  is  dominated  by  two  peaks  on  which  the  ruins  of  two 
strong  forts  may  be  still  seen.  In  a  cavern  of  the  mountain-side 
beyond  the  inner  peak  it  is  said  that  the  Tibetans  condemned  to 
death  were  walled  in  until  such  time  as  the  scorpions  which  infest 
the  spot  had  done  their  deadly  work.  This  is  probably  wholly 
untrue,  though  we  did,  indeed,  notice  scorpions  more  than  once 
in  this  part  of  our  route.  Thence  we  moved  on  up  the  valley  of 
the  Kyi  chu,  leaving  behind  us  the  Tsang-po  sliding  heavily  to  the 
south  toward  the  defile  where  its  waters  vanished  from  our  sight. 
The  point  of  land  which  runs  out  between  the  two  rivers  was  ex- 
plored by  Mr.  Magniac,  and  found  to  be  an  impassable  morass. 
The  road  keeps  on  at  the  foot  of  the  hills,  but  before  these  are 
reached  a  wide  plain  is  crossed  through  which  a  deeply  cut  canal 
carries  off  the  snow  waters  from  the  mountains  on  the  left.  A 
monastery  stands  near  the  mouth  of  a  dry  and  unfertile  valley. 
At  Tashi-tse,  a  mile  or  two  short  of  Tse-pe-nang,  we  halted  for  the 
night,  just  underneath  a  detached  fort-crowned  pinnacle  of  rock 
thrust  out  from  the  mountain-side.  The  ground  swarmed  with 
little  black  beetles,  spotted  with  white  and  red  like  a  Tibetan  dom- 
ino. On  the  1st  of  August,  the  eight-mile-long  line  set  out  be- 
times for  the  last  stretch  of  the  journey  which  was  to  be  still 
uncheered  by  the  sight  of  Potala's  golden  roofs ;  the  distance  to  be 

blue,  red,  and  indigo   (rarely  black  or  purplish  blue)   is  beyond  comparison 
the  commonest  sequence  of  color  throughout  the  country. 


K  -5 

►J  u 

^  .-2 

w^  Hi 


>. 

!" 


THE  LAST  STAGE  305 

marched  was  about  eleven  miles.  The  road  lies  at  first  over  flat 
and  marshy  ground,  but  in  view  of  the  subsequent  narrow  and 
difficult  trang,  it  was  impossible  to  make  use  of  this  advantage 
by  advancing  otherwise  than  in  Indian  file  all  day. 

The  expeditionary  force  upon  the  march  must  have  been  an  im- 
pressive thing  for  the  natives  who  peeped  toward  it  from  the 
distant  rocks.  One  is  so  apt  to  think  of  an  army  from  one's  remem- 
brance of  a  parade  ground  or  a  review,  that  it  is  difficult  to  con- 
vey an  impression  of  the  enormous  length  to  which  even  so  small 
a  force  as  that  with  which  we  were  now  advancing  stretches  out 
upon  the  road.  The  first  result  of  this  is  that  the  greatest  danger  to 
be  guarded  against,  apart,  of  course,  from  hostile  demonstrations 
from  the  enemy,  is  that  of  irregularity  on  the  march;  for  a  sec- 
ond's delay,  caused,  say,  by  a  deep  water-cut,  multiplied,  as  it  must 
be,  by  the  number  of  files  in  an  eight-mile  column,  becomes,  at  the 
end  of  the  line,  a  delay  of  twenty  minutes.  It  was  a  striking  sight, 
this  long  filament  of  men  and  beasts  stretching  and  shrinking 
themselves  forward — for  all  the  world  like  a  worm  upon  a  path — 
as  the  gaps  were  lengthened  and  made  up,  between  the  high  cliff 
and  the  tumbling  water  below.  You  would,  in  the  morning,  find 
the  Pioneers  striding  with  long  legs  until  the  Gurkhas'  officers 
had  to  protest  against  the  pace ;  but  later  on,  in  the  same  day,  you 
would  find  a  Pioneer  or  two  sitting  exhausted  beside  the  road,  but 
rarely  would  you  find  a  Gurkha  in  distress.  The  dust  crawls  out 
slowly  from  under  the  changing  feet,  hanging  in  the  air  for  a  mile 
behind  the  last  files  of  the  rearguard.  In  front  will  go  the 
mounted  infantry,  inquisitive  and  at  wary  intervals,  and  then  a 
detachment  of  Sikhs,  long  drawn  out— interminably,  one  thinks, 
as  one  waits  beside  the  path  to  let  the  men  go  by.  Then  with  a 
brisk  clank  of  new  trappings,  up  steps  nearly  a  mile  of  moun- 
tain battery,  composed  of  great  upstanding  mules  specially 
chosen  for  their  work.  Some,  those  carrying  the  heavier  pieces, 
are   necessarily   "top-loaded."      This   is   the   most   trying   of 


3o6  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

all  ways  of  porterage,  because  there  is  no  natural  balance  of  the 
loads  and  the  breastplate  and  breechings  press  heavily  indeed 
against  the  animal's  steadiness  unless  the  road  be  flat.  Still,  to 
those  good  beasts,  this  was  but  a  little  matter.  One  mule  carries 
one  half  of  the  gun  and  the  breechpiece  follows  behind,  racketing 
backward  and  forward  with  the  jerky  mule  step,  but  secured  in- 
exorably ;  then  comes  the  trail,  and  then  the  wheels,  two  and  two, 
all  separated  by  a  man  or  two  on  foot.  After  these,  the  endless 
ammunition  train,  each  train  of  leather  shell-boxes  close  up  beside 
its  own  gun,  and  you  would  think  that  there  were  twenty  guns 
instead  of  six  in  the  battery  by  the  time  you  had  waited  for  a  quar- 
ter of  an  hour  only  to  find  the  disjecta  membra  of  these  all-impor- 
tant weapons  still  slowly  trailing  by.  Behind  them,  the  Commis- 
sioner might  be  found.  Of  him  one  could  never  say  positively 
his  position  or  his  pace,  for  he  would  sometimes  remain  in  camp 
working  with  a  dak  orderly  in  attendance  until  \he  rearguard 
were  on  the  point  of  starting,  and  then  he  would  manage  some- 
how to  climb  up  the  slow-moving  force  of  which  the  vanguard  was 
as  he  started  within  sight  of  their  evening's  camping-ground. 
Not  far  away  from  the  battery  you  would  always  find  the  General, 
jogging  along  with  bent  shoulders — a  mile  away  you  could  tell 
that  he  was  a  sick  man.^  Bignell  you  would  find  near  him, 
mounted  on  a  horse  that  looked  fitter  for  a  circus  than  a  campaign, 
but  was  useful  enough  at  a  rough-and-tumble  scurry  up  and  down 
rocks,  down  the  face  of  any  nullah  of  any  angle,  through  brakes 
of  sallow  thorn  or  across  the  stony  bottom  of  a  tumbling  river. 
"  Hippo  "  and  his  rider  did  yeoman  service,  and  though,  by  his 
own  confession,  Bignell  is  not  a  Ritz,  before  the  campaign  ended 
the  Headquarters'  mess  had  been  brought  to  a  state  of  almost  un- 
natural excellence — so  at  least  Bignell  claimed,  and  he  should 

^  For  three  or  four  days  Macdonald,  during  his  advance  from  Chumbi  to 
the  relief  of  Gyantse,  was  so  ill  with  gastritis  that  he  had  to  be  carried  in  a 
dandy,  and  repeatedly  afterward  he  was  compelled  to  take  to  his  bed  by 
attack  after  attack  of  this  weakening  and  lowering  sickness. 


THE  LAST  STAGE  307 

know.  Major  Iggulden  might  be  there  too,  but  more  probably  he 
would  be  found  well  in  front,  watching  the  road.  Lieutenant- 
Colonel  Waddell,  with  his  strangely  laden  attendants,  would  be 
hard  by,  and  not  far  away  O'Connor  on  his  strawberry  and  cream 
mount.  After  the  latter's  exploits  at  Pala,  Colonel  Younghus- 
band  set  a  grim  foot  down  on  the  aspirations  to  any  further 
military  glory  of  the  most  irreplaceable  man  in  all  that  force. 
Here  you  are  to  imagine  a  well,  but  somewhat  slightly,  built  man 
of  more  than  the  average  height,  with  an  offhand  courtesy  which 
masks  an  attractively  unselfish  nature  and  a  quick  and  observant 
eye.  I  think,  like  every  one  else  who  is  worth  knowing,  he  needs 
to  be  known,  for  it  is  truer  of  few  people  in  the  world  than  of 
O'Connor,  that  he  attends  strictly  and  exclusively  to  his  own  busi- 
ness; a  touch  of  the  recluse — shown  in  a  disinclination  to  attend 
meals — he  is  still  a  man  with  whom  no  other  man,  except  by  his 
own  fault,  could  fail  to  be  on  the  best  of  terms.  A  steady  judge  of 
most  things  is  this  young  gunner,  and  I  know  that  the  Commis- 
sioner rated  his  opinion  very  highly.  I  must  have  written  badly 
indeed  in  these  pages  if  they  do  not  already  confess  the  great  and 
continued  debt  which  they  owe  to  O'Connor  for  any  interest  they 
may  possess. 

Still  the  column  stretches  on;  after  the  fighting  men  come  the 
interminable  trains  of  laden  mules,  linked  together  four  by  four, 
tail  to  nose,  and  swerving  aside  for  no  man  and  no  thing.  I  have 
had  my  pony  swept  off  a  bridge  into  a  river  because  I  foolishly 
attempted  to  make  one  of  these  mule-trains  see  that  there  was 
ample  room  for  both  of  us ;  their  instinct,  which,  no  doubt,  has 
been  developed  by  generations  of  pack-carrying  along  dangerous 
trangs,  is  not  to  give  way  when  they  meet  an  obstacle ;  they  seem 
then  to  put  their  heads  down  and  make  a  determined  rush  inward 
in  order  to  put  an  extra  foot  or  two  between  themselves  and  the 
edge  of  the  path.  There  is  no  greater  fallacy  than  that  of  sup- 
posing that  a  mule  prefers  to  walk  on  the  edge  of  a  precipice.    He 


3o8  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

is  no  fool,  and  if  he  gets  his  load  entangled  with  a  passing  rider 
he  will  simply  shove  straight  through  the  obstacle.  The  only  oc- 
casion on  which  he  becomes  reasonable  and  docile  is  when  his 
pack  slips,  when  he  will  stand  perfectly  still  and  refuse  to  be 
hauled  forward,  however  much  his  companions  in  front  pull  at 
him;  it  need  not  be  said  that  this  they  immediately  do  with  all 
their  strength. 

One  conceives  a  very  genuine  liking  for  these  uncomplaining 
half-breeds ;  the  work  they  do  is  something  which  no  other  beast 
could  attempt,  and  they  remain  well  and  fit  for  work  long  after 
every  other  animal  known  to  man  as  a  baggage-carrier  has  given 
way.  We  tried  on  this  expedition  most  of  the  world's  beasts  of 
burden ;  the  ponies  were,  perhaps,  hardly  given  a  fair  chance  be- 
cause the  larger  part  of  their  drivers  bolted  the  night  before  we 
crossed  into  the  Chumbi  Valley.  Of  the  rest,  the  story  of  the  yaks 
is  one  of  the  dreariest  histories  of  a  waste  of  animal  life  in  military 
records ;  but  it  is  difficult  to  apportion  the  blame  for  this.^ 

*  The  original  corps  of  yaks  were  three  in  number,  under  Wigram,  Tillard, 
and  Twiss  respectively ;  they  came  from  the  Nepalese  frontier,  where  they 
were  taken  over  to  Chumbi  by  the  highest  possible  route  that  could  be  found 
across  Sikkim.  About  3,500  started  in  November,  but  as  their  numbers 
melted  away  under  stress  of  every  disease  known  to  the  veterinary  surgeon, 
the  scanty  remnants  of  these  herds  were  united  into  one  under  Wigram.  I  do 
not  think  that  any  record  of  the  expedition  would  be  complete  without  at 
least  some  reference  to  the  work  done  by  this  officer.  Exiled  from  speech 
with  his  own  kin  for  many  months  on  end,  with  only  the  half-savage  yak- 
drivers  of  Nepal  to  talk  to,  he  tended  his  miserable  beasts  with  a  care  that  de- 
serves recognition.  He  was  not  allowed  by  the  exigencies  of  the  case  to  draw 
upon  the  commissariat  for  any  fodder,  and  when  it  was  eventually  necessary 
to  find  some  other  sustenance  for  his  charges  than  that  which  bare  snow  and 
rock  provided,  he  paid  for  it  out  of  his  own  pocket.  In  spite  of  all  he  could 
do  himself,  his  beasts  dwindled  away,  dying  in  tens  and  twenties  at  a  time, 
and  I  well  remember  seeing  the  last  remnants,  150  in  number,  of  these  3,500 
yaks  slowly  wending  their  way  into  Chumbi,  with  the  drivers  themselves 
actually  carrying  the  little  loads  which  the  yaks  were  no  longer  able  to  sup- 
port. Subsequently  another  corps  was  made  up  of  600  beasts  from  Phari,  150 
from  Tuna,  and  500  from  other  places.  At  the  end  of  June,  of  this  new 
corps  of  1,250,  209  alone  were  alive  in  Gyantse ;  about  170  were  picked  up  after- 
ward, and  with  greater  success  than  had  ever  been  achieved  before,  they 
■were  divided  into  two  corps,  one  of  about  240  at  the  ferry,  the  remainder  being 


THE  LAST  STAGE  309 

We  had  in  the  column  two  curious  beasts— zebrules.  They 
were  not  a  success ;  pleasant  and  docile  animals,  a  cross  between  a 
zebra  and  a  Clydesdale  mare,  they  were  physically  unable  to  stand 
the  pack  work  because  they  were  longer  in  the  back  than  any 
horse,  or  any  zebra,  or  any  mule  has  ever  been  before,  so,  as  a 
rule,  they  were  allowed  to  accompany  the  battery  more  as  curi- 
osities than  as  workers.  Camels  were  even  at  one  time  proposed, 
and,  I  believe,  actually  used,  but  their  immediate  failure  was  pre- 
destined. Donkey  corps  were  used  successfully ;  but  in  these  cases 
the  contracts  were  given  out  locally  to  Tibetans  in  the  habit 
of  transporting  goods  on  these  little  animals.  The  Supply  and 
Transport  Department,  indefatigable  in  their  researches,  offered 
100  rupees  for  any  kyang  which  could  be  brought  in.  This  can 
hardly  have  been  seriously  meant,  though  it  certainly  was  seri- 
ously taken  by  the  native  troops.  A  kyang  is  a  tortoiseshell-col- 
ored  wild  ass  confined  to  this  part  of  the  world's  surface;  it  has 
never  been  tamed,  and  the  Tibetans,  who  should  know,  say  that 
it  is  untamable ;  herds  of  them  are  found  on  the  Tuna  plateau ;  and 
again,  outside  Lhasa,  there  are  some  which  are  regarded  as  the 
peculiar  and  semi-sacred  property  of  the  Dalai  Lama. 

Excepting  of  course  coolies,  the  only  other  means  of  transport 
employed  during  the  expedition  was  the  ekka,  a  brilliant  inspira- 
tion of  Major  Bretherton's.  These  light  two-wheeled  carts,  a 
mere  platform  upon  wheels,  were  laboriously  hoisted  up  over  the 
Natu  la  in  detached  pieces  and  toward  the  end  of  the  thne  were 
running  regularly  and  without  undue  mishaps  on  the  level  plain 
between  Kamparab  and  Kang-ma,  a  distance  of  90  miles.  There 
was  some  difficulty  at  first  in  harnessing  the  ponies  of  Tibet  to  a 
thing  they  had  never  seen  before;  the  yaks,  on  the  other  hand, 
took  to  it  at  once,  and  four  or  five  of  these  beasts  could  be  seen 

stabled  at  Pe-di  jong.  This,  in  bald  outline,  is  the  fate  of  the  yak  corps,  and 
the  S.  and  T.  Department  have  learned  never  again  to  place  their  reliance 
upon  these  burly  and  delicate  beasts. 


3IO  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

any  day  solemnly  trudging  along  with  the  weary  persecuted  look 
on  their  face  which  entirely  belies  the  innate  contentment  that  a 
yak  feels  when  he  has  succeeded  in  inducing  his  master  to  believe 
that  he  cannot  go  more  than  a  mile  and  a  half  an  hour.* 

So  the  far-stretching  column  creeps  along,  leaving  behind  it  a 
trampled  highway  and  a  low  hanging  canopy  of  dust. 

Three  times  in  the  march  to  Nam  the  road  creeps  painfully  be- 
tween the  rock  and  the  river,  three  times  it  stretches  across  a  wide 
and  cultivated  plain;  one  passes  Jang-ma,  where  a  stagnant  and 
picturesque  reed-swamp  separates  the  village  from  the  mantra- 
adorned  rock.  The  village  is  pretty  enough  in  its  fields  of  deep 
barley.  At  last  we  turned  the  steepest  spur  of  all,  to  double  which 
the  road  runs  lOO  feet  up  the  high  projecting  shoulder  of  granite. 
Here  there  was  to  be  seen  a  gleam  of  gold  in  the  far  distance,  and 
we  thought  that  Lhasa  was  at  last  in  sight;  but  it  was  in  reality 
only  the  gilded  roof  of  the  Chief  Magician's  temple,  two  miles  dis- 
tant from  the  Ling-kor.  Descending  to  a  plain,  we  made  our  en- 
campment for  the  night  just  where  the  curving  river,  here  a  mile 
wide,  was  eating  into  the  alluvial  flats  so  fast  that,  as  we  watched, 
another  and  yet  another  piece  of  fresh  green  turf  fell  helplessly 
into  the  muddy  stream.  The  view  from  Nam  to  the  north-east — 
and  no  one  would  look  in  any  other  direction — is  shut  in  by  two 

*  The  language  of  the  yaks  is  a  thing  in  itself :  it  must  be  heard  to  be 
believed.  These  yak-drivers,  almost  as  well  qualified  for  stuffing  as  curiosities 
of  natural  history  as  their  charges,  carry  on  a  conversation  with  their  beasts 
which  astounds  an  outsider.  I  here  append  two  or  three  of  these  sounds. 
The  command  to  quicken  their  pace  is  indicated  to  the  yaks  by  the  same  sound 
as  that  produced  by  a  small  boy  in  London  whistling  through  his  teeth  with 
the  fullest  power  of  his  lungs ;  the  signal  to  stop  is  a  triple  "  ugh "  thrust 
from  the  lowest  recesses  of  the  chest.  More  interesting  are  two  other  com- 
mands. If  you  are  approaching  a  yak  from  behind,  and  you  do  not  wish  him 
either  to  get  alarmed  or  quicken  his  pace,  all  you  have  to  do  (and  he  will 
recognize  it  at  once)  is  three  or  four  times  to  make  that  sound  with  the 
tongue  and  teeth  with  which  a  nicely  brought  up  lady  will  express  the  tire- 
someness of  a  trifle.  I  do  not  know  much  more  about  the  language,  but  I 
doubt  if  in  their  vocabulary  they  have  a  more  surprising  word  than  "yea- 
milly."  At  this  order  the  yaks  will  actually  return  again  to  the  path  if  they 
have  strayed  too  far  from  it  up  the  mountain-side. 


THE  LAST  STAGE  311 

converging  spurs  from  north  and  south,  in  the  middle  of  which 
an  islet  of  rock  rises,  nearly  joining  the  two.  Between  this  and 
the  southern  spur  the  river  ran ;  our  road  was  to  take  us  on  the 
northern  side  of  the  islet.  These  barriers  shut  off  all  sight  of  the 
plain  of  Lhasa,  and  in  spite  of  the  repeated  claims  of  those  who 
went  forward  with  the  mounted  infantry,  the  fact  remains  that 
Captain  Peterson  or  Captain  Souter  must  have  been  actually  the 
first  man  to  see  the  Potala,  long  after  the  force  had  been  persuaded 
that  the  credit  belonged  to  Captain  Ottley,  who  had  a  race  up  a 
height  with  Major  Iggulden,  and  beat  him  by  a  head  in  obtaining 
the  first  glimpse  of — Sera  Monastery!  They  returned  to  camp 
vowing  they  had  seen  Lhasa,  in  spite  of  the  steady  assurances  of 
a  Tibetan  interpreter.^ 

On  the  next  day,  the  2d  of  August,  we  still  followed  the  dif- 
ficult track  along  the  indentations  of  the  hills  and  emerged  at 
last  into  a  wide,  well-cultivated  plain.  There,  moving  along  a 
sunken  road  between  wide  fields  of  peas  and  wheat,  we  soon 
reached  the  well-wooded  village  of  Nethang,  which  boasts  the 
distinction  of  having  been  the  residence  of  the  great  reformer, 
Atisha.  The  road  runs  straight  through  the  town,  making  two 
sharp  turns  at  right  angles  as  it  does  so;  a  few  lamas  gathered 
at  the  door  or  on  the  roof-tops  to  watch  us,  a  few  children  stood 
in  the  doorways  with  their  fingers  in  their  mouths  and  their 
■eyes  wide  open.     There  was  no  other  sign  of  life. 

We  made  a  short  halt  beyond  the  village  to  enable  the  proper 
intervals  to  be  made  up,  but  it  was  with  impatience  that  we 
waited  the  order  to  continue  our  march.  Before  us  the  two  spurs 
of  intervening  rock  still  closed  the  view  of  the  Plain  of  Milk 
completely,  and  there  was  a  mile  to  be  traversed  before  we  could 
make  our  way  between  these  forbidding  barriers.  Once  set 
moving  again,  the  column  crawled  forward  under  the  rocky 

*  If  it  is  of  any  interest  to  record  these  details,  the  town  of  Lhasa  itself  was  first 
seen  by  Captain  Ottley  from  the  spur  joining  Potala  and  Chagpo-ri. 


312  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

sides  of  the  northern  spur  and  at  last  threaded  through  the 
defile. 

Another  disappointment  was  in  store  for  us.  Once  inside  the 
gate  of  the  plain,  even  from  that  point  of  view  not  a  stone  nor 
a  pinnacle  of  Lhasa  is  to  be  seen.  We  had  to  possess  our  souls 
in  patience  still.  But  that  we  were  near  our  journey's  end  was 
clear  enough.  Here  at  our  left  elbows,  hacked  out  on  the  inner 
surface  of  the  rock,  was  the  famous  Buddha  of  which  we  had 
so  often  heard;  this  great  monster,  thirty  feet  in  height,  and 
cut  in  thirty-six-inch  relief  in  the  natural  flattened  surface  of  the 
raw  rock,  gazed  over  our  heads  toward  the  Holy  City.  It  has 
had  built  over  it  a  roof  supported  on  two  jutting  walls  of  granite, 
and  it  is  undoubtedly  of  a  very  early,  even  possibly  of  a  pre- 
historic, type;  it  marks  the  entrance  to  the  plain  in  which  Lhasa 
lies,  though,  as  I  have  said,  a  projecting  spur  from  the  south 
still  conceals  the  Potala  from  one's  eyes.  It  is  for  this  reason 
of  great  religious  interest  and  veneration,  and  in  front  of  it 
stands  a  twenty-foot  heap  of  pebbles  raised  by  pious  pilgrims 
in  thanksgiving  for  the  nearness  of  their  long-expected  goal.  ' 
It  is  bedaubed  coarsely  with  yellow  and  blue  and  red,  and,  it 
must  be  confessed,  is  one  of  the  ugliest  things  we  saw  in  the 
country. 

Close  as  we  thought  ourselves  to  be,  it  was  nearly  two  miles 
yet,  two  long  miles  impatiently  covered — past  strange  strata 
of  gneiss  jutting  out  perpendicularly  from  the  hillsides  like 
huge  armor-plates — past  an  interesting  example  of  the  strange 
"  cup  marks  "  which  are  found  all  the  world  over  in  the  Eastern 
and  Western  hemispheres  alike,  which  no  living  man  can  even 
attempt  to  explain,  and  at  which  no  one  just  then  even  wished 
to  look — past  treacherous  swamps  of  vivid  green  grass  growing 
on  soil  more  water  than  earth— two  miles  that  seem  like  ten, 
before  that  interminable  southern  spur  is  outridden,  before  the 
place  of  our  desire  was  reached. 


THE  LAST  STAGE  313 

You  may  see  from  afar  the  spot  at  which  the  first  glance  of 
the  Potala  may  be  obtained.  Beside  a  barley  field  is  a  low  mud- 
colored  chorten,  and  beside  the  shorten  is  a  heap  of  stones  larger 
even  than  that  before  the  great  Buddha  behind  us.  There  is  not 
much  else  to  mark  the  place,  but  assuredly  nothing  more  was 
needed  on  that  day. 

It  was  about  three  o'clock  in  the  afternoon,  and  a  light-blue 
haze  was  settling  down  in  between  the  ravines  of  the  far-distant 
mountains  that  to  the  east  ringed  in  the  plain,  and  nearer  to  hand 
on  either  side  threw  their  spurs  forward  like  giant  buttresses 
from  north  to  south.  There  was  a  smell  of  fresh  spring  earth 
and  the  little  rustle  of  a  faint  wind  in  the  heads  of  barley;  the 
sun  was  merciless  in  a  whitened  sky  wherein  from  horizon  to 
horizon  there  was  never  a  flush  of  blue.  It  was  all  common, 
and  yet  the  hour  teemed  with  a  fierce  interest  of  a  kind  that  no 
man  will  perhaps  ever  feel  again.  I  took  off  my  smoked-glass 
spectacles  to  see  the  clearer,  and  it  was  bright  indeed. 

Then,  as  we  rode  on,  it  came.  In  the  far,  far  distance,  across 
and  beyond  those  flat  fields  of  barley,  marked  here  and  there 
by  the  darker  line  of  low-wooded  plantations,  a  gray  pyramid 
painfully  disengaged  itself  from  behind  the  outer  point  of  the 
gray  concealing  spur — Lhasa. 

•  «•••• 

Here  at  last  it  was,  the  never-reached  goal  of  so  many  weary 
wanderers,  the  home  of  all  the  occult  mysticism  that  still  re- 
mains on  earth.  The  light  waves  of  mirage  dissolving  impal- 
pably  just  shook  the  far  outlines  of  the  golden  roofs  and  dimly 
seen  white  terraces.     I  do  not  think  any  one  of  us  said  much. 

The  mounted  infantry  were,  of  course,  ahead  of  us,  but  we  had 
outridden  the  main  column  by  some  distance,  and  we  stood  a 
moment  on  the  road  just  where  a  sudden  flight  of  dragon-flies 
pierced  the  air  with  lines  of  quick  blue ;  then  we  rode  on.  Even 
supposing  we  had  found  Lhasa  to  be  a  handful  of  hovels  scat- 


314  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

tered  on  a  dusty  plain  with  just  such  distinction  of  palace  and 
temple  as  one  had  time  after  time  seen  in  Tibet  before,  one  side 
of  our  natural  curiosity  would,  no  doubt,  have  been  slaked  suffi- 
ciently, but  we  were  to  find  a  different  thing  indeed.  Here,  in 
these  uttermost  parts  of  the  earth,  uplifted  high  above  humanity, 
guarded  by  impenetrable  passes  of  rock  and  ice,  by  cliffs  of  sheer 
granite,  by  the  hostility  of  man  and  by  the  want  of  food  and 
fuel,  here  was  no  poor  Oriental  town  arrogating  to  itself  the 
dignity  which  mystery  in  itself  confers.  Judged  by  the  stan- 
dards of  the  East  and  West  alike,  Lhasa  is  a  city  which  can 
hold  its  own  with  most ;  we  were  to  find  it  unique,  dowered  with 
a  mingled  magnificence  and  green  luxuriance  for  which  no  step 
of  our  journey  had  g^ven  us  warning. 

There  at  last  it  was,  and  for  the  next  half  mile  O'Connor  and 
I  allowed  our  beasts  to  find  their  own  way  over  the  pebble-strewn 
road  while  little  by  little  we  devoured  with  our  eyes  the  outlines 
of  the  twin  rocks  which  stand  as  sentinels  to  hide  from  the 
traveler  the  sight  of  the  Cathedral  which  lies  low  on  the  plain 
to  the  east.  For  the  city  of  Lhasa  is  not  visible  until  you  shall 
have  climbed  up  the  neck  of  land  which  almost  joins  Chagpo-ri 
to  Potala.  But  there  the  great  palace  of  the  god-king  was, 
and  a  shaft  or  two  of  light  from  the  golden  canopies  burned 
whitely  upon  us  for  a  few  yards  as  we  went. 

The  remainder  of  that  day's  march  was  simple  enough;  we 
made  our  way  past  whitened  houses  lurking  here  and  there  under 
the  shade  of  Lombardy  poplars  and  begirt  with  the  green  and 
rustling  ranks  of  barley,  until  at  last  To-lung  was  reached, 

T6-lung  is  but  a  house  or  two  by  the  western  approach  to 
the  bridge  over  the  T6-lung-chu.  This  bridge  is  one  of  the  most 
creditable  pieces  of  Tibetan  labor,  for  not  only  is  the  bridge  itself 
well  constructed  of  granite  with  its  piers  protected  by  long 
sterlings  up  stream,  but  for  more  than  a  mile  on  either  side 
the  very  course  of  that  stream  is  guided  beneath  it  from  the  hills 


THE  LAST  STAGE  315 

where  its  springs  are.  Two  well  built  containing  walls  ten  feet 
in  height  curb  the  snow  waters  coming  from  the  long  valley  to 
the  north. 

It  is,  perhaps,  as  well  to  describe  at  once  the  unusual  conforma- 
tion and  consistency  of  the  plain  in  the  middle  of  which  Lhasa 
lies.  The  Tibetans  themselves  will  assure  you  that  there  is  an 
underground  lake,  and  that  unless  these  waters  are  annually 
propitiated,  not  only  by  services  and  obeisances  rendered  to  the 
serpent  who  lives  in  the  island  sanctuary  of  Lu-kang,  but  also 
by  ceremonies  calculated  to  mollify  the  vague  personality  who 
dwells  beneath  the  very  shrine  of  the  Jo  itself,  Lhasa  would  be 
inundated  by  its  unseen  waters.  There  is  this  nluch  to  be  said 
in  justification  of  this  theory,  that,  from  end  to  end,  the  plain 
round  the  capital  is  almost  without  exception  a  water-sodden 
morass  on  which  it  is  almost  impossible  to  travel  for  a  hundred 
yards  without  encountering  a  quagmire.  The  road  by  which 
one  approaches  the  capital  is  a  causeway  built  four  or  five  feet 
up  from  the  surface  of  the  marsh  and  pierced  a  dozen  times 
by  culverts  through  which  brown  peaty  water  flows  apace.  Only 
in  two  places  are  these  waters  confined  within  their  proper 
channels.  The  To-lung  revetments  make  it  possible  on  the 
west  to  build  a  bridge  across  the  collected  waters  that  would 
otherwise  undermine  the  firm  earth  for  half  a  mile  on  either  side, 
and  farther  on,  under  the  western  gate  of  Lhasa  itself,  another 
great  work  of  sand  binds  in  the  spasmodic  floods  which  oppress 
the  Kaling  chu.  These  two  works  drain  the  Plain  of  Milk,  so 
far  at  least  as  T6-lung  and  Lhasa  are  concerned;  for  the  rest, 
the  waving  rushes  of  the  plain  conceal  a  treacherous  depth  of 
slime. 

In  length  the  Plain  of  Milk  is  about  15  miles,  in  width  it  varies 
from  two  to  five,  and  in  upon  it  from  all  sides  strike  the  spurs 
of  vast  mountains  which  even  then,  in  July,  were  snow-capped 
in  the  morning  hours.     In  the  recesses  between  these  spurs  lurk 


3i6  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

the  villages  and  the  monasteries  of  which  we  had  heard  so  much. 
Lhasa  itself  lies  out  in  mid-plain  under  the  eastern  lee  of  the  two 
hills  I  have  described.  Through  the  plain,  immediately  to  the 
south  of  the  capital,  the  Kyi  chu  meanders  vaguely  through  its 
wide  and  sandy  course,  and,  thanks  to  this  luxuriance  of  water 
and  to  the  shelter  which  is  provided  by  the  mountains  round 
from  every  wind  that  blows,  the  unpollarded  vegetation  of  the 
plain  grows  rank  and  free.  A  little  road  crieeps  along  the  north- 
ern mountain-side,  following  the  ins  and  outs  of  the  mountain 
contours  from  T6-lung  to  Sera,  but  this  is  only  a  side  track — 
the  main  road  strikes  fairly  and  straightly  across  the  center  of 
the  marsh  from  Shing-donkar  to  the  Pargo  Kaling,  or  western 
gate  of  the  Sacred  City. 

At  T6-lung  we  halted  for  the  night,  but  long  before  the  camp 
was  settled  a  great  deputation  arrived  from  out  of  the  capital. 
An  audience  was  granted,  and  for  two  hours  and  a  half  the 
Mission  camp  was  thronged  with  the  bright  silken  habits  and 
hats  of  the  more  important  dignitaries.  There  were  the  usual 
arguments,  the  usual  prayers;  in  their  recommendations  that  the 
force  should  advance  no  further  toward  the  city  of  which  the 
guardian  hills  were  now  clearly  visible  to  the  east,  the  Tibetan 
envoys  enjoyed  what  must  have  been  to  them  unexpected  support 
from  the  General.  But  it  was  the  same  old  game  on  the  part 
of  the  Tibetans,  and  I  do  not  think  that  anything  throughout 
the  campaign  reflected  so  much  credit  upon  the  Secretary  of 
State  for  India  as  that  when  he  at  last  realized  at  all  the  necessity 
of  this  advance  he  recognized  also  its  imperative  nature.  Ac- 
cepting the  representations  of  Colonel  Younghusband,  he  did 
not  hesitate  a  moment;  the  treaty,  he  ordered,  was  to  be  signed 
in  Lhasa  itself,  and  signed  not  even  one  mile  short  of  it.  As 
the  afternoon  wore  on,  the  fruitless  durbar  slowly  dissolved, 
but  not  until  the  leading  men  had  thoroughly  satisfied  the  curi- 
osity which  almost  every  article  of  dress  or  mechanism  excited. 


THE  LAST  STAGE  317 

Personally,  I  amused  myself  by  showing  to  them  several  illus- 
trated weekly  papers;  it  was  curious  to  notice  that  they  thor- 
oughly understood  the  course  which  the  Russo-Japanese  war 
was  taking,  and  they  looked  with  great  eagerness  at  the  plates 
in  which  the  incidents  of  the  struggle  were  depicted.  But  other 
things  in  the  papers  puzzled  them  extremely.  They  did  not  seem 
at  all  impressed  by  the  large  portraits  of  well-known  beautiful 
and  partially  unclad  ladies  which  constituted  no  small  part  of 
the  attractions  of  most  of  the  periodicals  we  had  with  us,  but  a 
representation  of  Dan  Leno,  seated,  if  I  remember  rightly,  on 
a  pillar  with  a  guitar  in  his  hands,  a  crown  of  flowers  round 
his  head  and  a  skirt  round  his  legs,  was  something  they  would 
not  allow  me  to  pass  by.  I  confess  I  found  it  difficult  to  explain 
to  them  exactly  all  that  Dan  Leno  but  two  months  ago  repre- 
sented to  the  Londoner.  Another  picture  about  which  they 
wished  to  know  the  whole  truth  was  that  of  His  Majesty  the 
King  walking  down  a  quay-side  in  Germany.  I  explained  to 
them  that  the  figure  to  the  right  was  that  of  the  "  Pi-ling 
Gyal-po  Chempo,"  and  in  a  moment  the  attention  of  twenty 
of  them  was  called  from  all  sides  to  it;  they  crowded  round 
with  their  chins  on  one  another's  shoulders.  After  they  had 
sated  their  curiosity  about  the  Emperor  of  India — that  unknown 
majesty  in  whose  omnipotence  they  were  slowly  coming  to  be- 
lieve— I  was  abruptly  asked  who  his  companion  might  be.  It 
was  the  Kaiser.  I  tried  to  explain  the  family  and  the  politi- 
cal relationship  between  the  two  Emperors,  but  found  that  I  was 
not  entirely  understood,  so  I  summoned  an  interpreter  and  told 
him  to  explain  to  the  Tibetans  that  the  German  Emperor  was 
a  very  great  sovereign  in  Europe  and  that  he  was  the  King's 
nephew.^ 

*  My  intentions  were,  however,  somewhat  misunderstood,  for  some  time 
afterward,  when  I  asked  the  interpreter  what  he  had  actually  said,  his  answer 
was  to  this  effect:— "Sir,  I  told  them  that  this  was  a  nephew  of  the  Em- 
peror, and  a  great  and  mighty  monarch  possessing  wide  territories.    And  I 


3i8  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

So,  in  a  drizzling  rain  ended  the  last  day  of  our  weary  march 
from  India,  for  there  remained  but  seven  miles  to  cross  and 
every  yard  of  them  was  lightened  by  the  distant  view  of  the 
palace  and  roofs  of  our  long-sought  goal. 

said  that  because  of  the  especial  love  with  which  our  Emperor  regarded  him, 
he  had  of  his  goodness  granted  unto  his  nephew  all  the  wide  territories  which 
he  possessed."  This  was  not  exactly  what  I  had  meant,'  but  it  was  too  late 
to  correct  the  impression. 


CHAPTER  XVII 

LHASA,  I 

THERE  was  a  light  rain  in  the  early  hours  of  the  morning- 
of  the  3d  of  August.  All  round  the  amphitheater  of  hills 
a  light-gray  Scotch  mist  was  draining  itself  imperceptibly  into 
the  plain,  and  it  was  not  until  just  before  the  start  that  the 
rain  stopped,  and  the  lower  edge  of  these  clouds  became  a  clean- 
cut  white  line  slowly  receding  up  the  mountain-side  as  the  morn- 
ing passed.  Our  course  was  almost  due  east.  We  crossed  the 
bridge  and  made  our  way  by  the  well-defined  though  somewhat 
weed-grown  road  between  high  fields  of  peas  and  barley  to  the 
spur  which  ran  out  from  the  north  and  hid  from  our  sight  the 
monastery  of  De-bung.  It  was  to  be  in  all  a  march  of  about 
seven  miles,  and  after  the  first  three  had  been  passed  without 
incident  a  halt  was  called  just  on  the  western  side  of  the  town 
and  ruined  fort  of  Shing-donkar.  This  is  a  picturesque  little 
place  nestling  at  the  foot  of  a  high  precipitous  spur,  of  which 
the  almost  horizontal  and  razor-like  summit  is  supported  on  a 
roughly  columnar  edge  of  granite.  Even  from  Lhasa  itself 
it  stands  out  boldly  against  the  sunset,  and  its  jagged  edge  is  a 
small  feature  in  the  scenery  of  which  I  am  somewhat  sorry  to 
have  taken  no  photograph.  The  road  passes  between  Shing- 
donkar  and  the  first  of  the  many  "  lings,"  or  thickly  planted  in- 
closures,  which  are  characteristic  of  the  plain  in  which  Lhasa 
lies.  Immediately  afterward  the  road  ascends  the  stony  spur, 
and  dropping  quickly  on  the  other  side  follows  the  contour  of 

319 


320  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

a  recess  in  the  hills  before  the  last  point  is  reached  and  De-bung 
Monastery  is  clearly  seen. 

De-bung,  the  home  of  all  the  misplaced  political  intrigfue  of 
Tibet,  lies  in  tightly  packed  tiers  of  houses  far  up  into  the  stony 
amphitheater  made  by  a  recess  in  'the  hills.  From  a  distance 
it  is  a  somewhat  imposing  object;  the  very  compactness  with 
which  it  has  gathered  into  itself,  without  a  straggler  far  or  near, 
the  dormitories  and  chapels  needed  for  nearly  8,000  monks  is, 
in  itself,  a  striking  thing.  In  the  middle  the  golden  Chinese 
roofs  of  the  great  gompa  shine  above  the  friezes  of  maroon  and 
brown  yak  hair  curtains,  whereby  the  golden  badges  hang.  For 
the  rest.  De-bung  presents  but  few  features  of  interest.  It  is  like 
every  other  monastery  in  Tibet.  Once  inside  it  there  is  nothing 
to  see  which  differentiates  it  from  the  Palkhor  choide,  from 
the  Potala,  from  Tse-chen,  from  Dong^se,  from  a  dozen  more. 
But  all  the  same,  in  this  monastery  of  De-bung  there  has  been 
for  some  years,  and  there  still  is,  hatched  all  the  trouble  which 
the  present  Dalai  Lama  has  brought  upon  his  country  and  his 
faith. 

Not  far  from  it  on  the  eastern  side  of  the  amphitheater,  and 
so  hidden  from  the  sight  of  Lhasa,  in  a  small  tree-clad  ravine 
through  which  a  fresh  stream  tumbles  among  its  boulders,  lie 
the  house  and  temple  of  the  chief  wizard  of  Tibet — the  Na-chung 
Chos-kyong.  This  building  is  finished  with  more  beauty  and 
luxury  than  any  other  in  Tibet,  and  a  full  description  of  it  is 
reserved  for  a  later  chapter. 

At  Cheri  the  column  halted  upon  the  road  a  mile  across  the 
debris-littered  plain  from  De-bung.  Here  Mahommedan  butch- 
ers carry  on  their  work,  and  the  first  signs  of  habitations  made 
of  the  horns  of  slaughtered  beasts  are  to  be  seen.  Soon,  how- 
ever,  we  stretched  on  again  across  the  causeway  between  the 
marshes  from  which  teal  and  wild  duck  flew  up  now  and  then. 
Slowly  the  two  western  hills  of  Lhasa  raised  and  extended  them- 


LHASA,  I  321 

selves  along  the  horizon,  and  when  at  last,  after  some  delibera- 
tion and  reconnoitering,  a  dry  patch  of  ground  was  found  about 
a  mile  from  the  still  invisible  gate  of  Lhasa  and  a  camp  was 
pitched  there,  the  sharp  outline  of  the  great  palace  towered  over 
us  against  the  gauzy  whiteness  of  the  noonday  sky.^ 

Looking  eastward  from  the  camp,  Lhasa  was  still  completely 
hidden  by  the  twin  hills  and  the  neck  between  them.  On  the  left 
Potala  raised  its  great  bulk,  though  the  full  size  of  this  gigantic 
building  is  nowhere  less  to  be  seen  than  from  the  spot  on  which 
our  camp  was  pitched.  One  had  a  view  of  it  on  end  which  failed 
to  give  any  suggestion  of  its  real  length  and  importance,  but  what 
we  did  see  even  so  was  huge  enough.  A  white  round-tower 
crowned  the  serrated  wall  of  bald  white  masonry  which  divides 
off  the  palace  from  the  almost  perpendicular  scarp  of  the  rock  on 
which  it  stands.  Behind  that  rose  another  great  white  bulk  of 
square  grim  masonry  pierced  with  a  row  of  stiff  small  windows ; 
above  that  rose  yet  a  higher  rim  of  white  roof ;  over  that  again  the 
square  red  outline  of  the  central  palace  of  the  Dalai  Lama  himself; 
and,  above  all,  the  great  golden  roofs  glittering  in  the  sun.  Im- 
mediately below  it  the  slanting  way  up  the  rock  passed  between 
the  dark  green  foliage  of  trees  and  the  sienna  and  ocher  of  the 
Red  Hill,^  relieved  by  spaces  of  wild  grass.  Toward  us  to  the 
south  and  south-west  the  hillside  sheers  down  steeply  before  it 
again  rises  with  almost  the  same  abruptness  to  form  the  lion- 

^  For  sheer  inaccuracy  the  following  description  by  Chandra  Das  of  the  ap- 
proach to  Lhasa  can  hardly  be  paralleled  in  serious  literature.  "  At  this  point 
the  road  nears  the  river,  and  the  whole  city  stood  displayed  before  us  at  the 
end  of  an  avenue  of  gnarled  trees,  the  rays  of  the  setting  sun  falling  on  its 
gilded  domes.  It  was  a  superb  sight,  the  like  of  which  I  have  never  seen. 
On  our  left  was  Potala,  with  its  lofty  buildings  and  gilt  roofs ;  before  us,  sur- 
rounded by  a  green  meadow,  lay  the  Town  with  its  tower-like  white-washed 
houses  and  Chinese  buildings  with  roofs  of  blue  glazed  tiles."  One  would 
think  that  the  middle  sentence  was  literally  true. 

^  The  original  name  of  this  hill  was  simply  Marpo-ri,  and  the  palace  built 
on  the  site  in  1032  was  evidently  constructed  of  blocks  quarried  on  the  hill 
itself,  for  it  was  known  as  the  Phodang  Marpo. 


322  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

shaped  mass  of  Chagpo-ri.*  Chagpo-ri  is  crowned  with  a  small 
square  yellow  Jong,  and  immediately  hidden  from  view  by  the  top- 
most pinnacle  on  which  the  jong  is  placed  is  a  medical  college  rest- 
ing, as  it  were,  on  the  lion's  withers.  Immediately  on  the  south 
again  runs  the  stream  of  the  Kyi  chu.  So  much  could  be  seen  or 
gtiessed  from  the  halting-ground,  whence  the  high  road  leads 
straight  into  the  western  gate  between  the  two  high  rocky  citadels. 
The  first  thing  that  the  traveler  notices  is  the  embankment  of  sand 
constructed  by  a  Depen  of  the  name  of  Karpi  in  1 72 1 .  This  man, 
by  order  of  the  Chinese  conquerors,  had  immediately  before  pulled 
down  the  walls  which  defended  Lhasa  more  from  the  assaults  of 
nature  than  of  man,  and  he  found  it  necessary  to  undertake  the 
construction  of  these  enormous  retaining  walls — to  which  I  have 
referred  in  the  last  chapter — to  save  Lhasa  from  the  encroachment 
of  the  water-sodden  plain  around.  The  Kaling  chu  is  an  artifi- 
cially constructed  waterway  which  diverts  from  the  town  itself  all 
the  water  coming  down  toward  it  from  the  two  valleys  lying  im- 
mediately north  of  Lhasa,  in  one  of  which  Sera  Monastery,  two 
miles  away,  is  clearly  to  be  seen,  a  small  nest  of  white  houses  but- 
tressing the  foot  of  the  rock  and  ensigned  with  a  gilded  roof  or 
two.  This  double  embankment  is  a  striking  feature;  the  road  runs 
paralkl  along  the  northern  side  of  it  for  500  yards,  and  one  can 
see  the  tops  of  the  trees  which  fillthe  square  *'  ling  "  or  plantation 
abutting  on  to  it  to  the  south.  At  last  the  embankment  turns 
northward,  and  we  cross  it  by  a  primitive  bridge  under  the  wide 
branches  of  a  poplar  tree.  After  crossing  it  the  plantation  on  our 
right  is  seen  to  be  a  tangled  jungle  of  thorn  and  willow  and  pop- 
lar, over  all  of  which  the  thick-petaled  orange  clematis  grows  in 
rank  profusion.  A  hundred  yards  on  a  road  sweeps  into  our  route 
from  the  right.  As  we  approached,  two  monks,  one  of  them  of 
extreme  age,  came  slowly  along  it  twirling  their  prayer-wheels 

*  It  will  be  remembered  that  at  the  first  view  of  Lhasa,  Potala  and  Chagpo-ri 
stood  out  like  two  pyramids  across  the  plain. 


2 


O 


t/3 

■A 


LHASA,  I  323 

and  muttering  incessantly  the  one  phrase  of  Lamaism  as  they 
went.  This  is  nothing  less  than  the  famous  Ling-kor,  the  ribbon 
of  road  which  separates  as  with  a  knife  the  sacred  from  the  pro- 
fane. In  all  the  world  there  is,  perhaps,  but  the  Via  Dolorosa  its 
equal  in  tradition.  For  miraculous  renown  the  Ling-kor  stands 
alone,  for  even  an  infidel  who  dies  while  making  the  sacred  cir- 
cuit is  saved  from  the  penalties  of  his  sins. 

To  the  left,  after  crossing  the  highway,  it  runs  beside  the  sandy 
embankment  of  the  Kaling  chu  to  the  north,  and  then,  sharply 
turning,  it  is  hidden  behind  the  trees  outside  the  garden  wall  of 
the  Lu-kang  seven  or  eight  hundred  yards  away.  On  its  surface, 
immediately  to  our  left,  are  a  few  beggars'  huts,  mere  patched 
rags  of  dirty  cloth  supported  on  sticks.  We  crossed  the  road  and 
were  in  the  sacred  territory  at  last.  Immediately  on  the  farther 
side  we  passed  the  gate  of  the  Kun-de-ling  Monastery  with  its 
woods  and  gardens  and  a  long  rocky  eminence  crowned  with  a 
Chinese  temple;  at  its  foot  a  hundred  cocks  were  scratching  up 
the  sacred  dust  awaiting  a  purchaser.  The  mass  of  Potala  now  ', 
hung  above  our  heads,  and  between  us  and  the  western  gate  there 
was  only  a  straight  stretch  of  road  bordered  on  the  one  side  by  a 
little  patch  of  barley  and  a  small  orchard  of  willows,  and  on  the 
right  by  the  still  waters  of  a  stagnant  willow-edged  pool.  Over 
the  willows  rose  the  mass  of  Chagpo-ri.  Another  two  hundred 
yards,  and  after  a  half-turn  to  the  right  round  the  end  of  the 
water,  we  find  facing  us  the  western  gate  of  Lhasa,  or  Pargo  Ka- 
ling. We  left  the  gate  on  our  left  and  at  once  began  the  ascent 
of  the  neck  of  rock  which  joins  the  two  hills.  There  is  a  steep 
climb  of  about  two  hundred  feet,  and  then,  with  breath-taking 
suddenness,  the  panorama  of  Lhasa  burst  upon  the  gaze. 

As  I  have  said,  Lhasa  would  remain  Lhasa  were  it  but  a  cluster 
of  hovels  on  the  sand.  But  the  sheer  magnificence  of  the  unex- 
pected sight  which  met  our  unprepared  eyes  was  to  us  almost  a 
thing  incredible.     There  is  nothing  missing  from  this  splendid 


324  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

spectacle — architecture,  forest  trees,  wide  green  places,  rivers, 
streams,  and  mountains  all  lie  before  one  as  one  looks  down  from 
the  height  upon  Lhasa  stretching  out  at  our  feet.  The  dark  for- 
bidding spurs  and  ravines  of  the  valley  of  the  Kyi  chu,  up  which 
we  had  come,  interlock  one  with  another  and  had  promised  no- 
thing of  all  this ;  the  beauty  of  Lhasa  is  doubled  by  its  utter  unex- 
pectedness. It  is  true  that  we  had  only  yesterday  and  that  very 
day  passed  through  green  fields  and  marshes  cloaked  shoulder 
high  with  rushes ;  it  is  true  that  here  and  there  a  densely  matted 
plantation  had  swung  slowly  beside  our  road  to  meet  jis  as  we 
moved  along ;  but  there  was  nothing— less  perhaps  in  such  maps 
and  descriptions  of  Lhasa  as  we  had  than  anywhere  else — to 
promise  us  this  city  of  gigantic  palace  and  golden  roof,  these  wild 
stretches  of  woodland,  these  acres  of  close-cropped  grazing  land 
and  marshy  grass,  ringed  and  delimited  by  high  trees  or  lazy 
streamlets  of  brown  transparent  water  over  which  the  branches 
almost  met. 

Between  the  palace  on  our  left  and  the  town  a  mile  away  in 
front  of  us  there  is  this  arcadian  luxuriance  interposing  a  mile- 
wide  belt  of  green.  Round  the  outlying  fringes  of  the  town  itself 
and  creeping  up  between  the  houses  of  the  village  at  the  foot  of 
the  Total  a  there  are  trees — trees  sufficiently  numerous  in  them- 
selves to  give  Lhasa  a  reputation  as  a  garden  city.  But  in  this 
stretch  of  green,  unspoiled  by  house  or  temple,  and  roadless  save 
for.  one  diverging  highway,  Lhasa  has  a  feature  which  no  other 
town  on  earth  can  rival. 

It; is  all  a  part  of  that  splendid  religious  pride  which  has  been 
the  making,  and  may  yet  prove  the  undoing,  of  Tibet.  It  was 
right  that  there  should  be  a  belt  of  nature  undefiled  encircling  the 
palace  of  the  incarnate  god  and  king,  and  there  the  belt  is,  invest- 
ing the  Potala  even  inside  the  loop  of  the  Ling-kor  with  some- 
thing of  the  isolation  which  guards  from  the  outer  world  the 
whole  of  this  strange  and  lovely  town.     Between  and  over  the 


./j: 


^"^ 


< 


o 

_;     J 

-^    5 

o 


o 

X 


LHASA,  I  325 

glades  and  woodlands  the  city  of  Lhasa  itself  peeps,  an  adobe 
stretch  of  narrow  streets  and  flat-topped  houses  crowned  here  and 
there  with  a  blaze  of  golden  roofs  or  gilded  cupolas ;  but  there  is 
no  time  to  look  at  this ;  a  man  can  have  no  eye  for  anything  but 
the  huge  upstanding  mass  of  the  Potala  palace  to  his  left; 
it  drags  the  eye  of  the  mind  like  a  loadstone,  for  indeed 
sheer  bulk  and  magnificent  audacity  could  do  no  more  in  archi- 
tecture than  they  have  done  in  this  huge  palace-temple  of  the 
Grand  Lama.  Simplicity  has  wrought  a  marvel  in  stone,  nine 
hundred  feet  in  length  and  towering  seventy  feet  higher  than 
the  golden  cross  of  St.  Paul's  Cathedral.  The  Potala  would 
dominate  London, — Lhasa  it  simply  eclipses.  By  European 
standards  it  is  impossible  to  judge  this  building;  there  is  nothing 
there  to  which  comparison  can  be  made.  Perhaps  in  the  austerity 
of  its  huge  curtains  of  blank,  unveiled,  unornamented  wall,  and 
in  the  flat,  unabashed  slants  of  its  tremendous  south-eastern  face 
there  is  a  suggestion  of  the  massive  grandeur  of  Egyptian  work ; 
but  the  contrast  of  color  and  surroundings,  to  which  no  small 
part  of  the  magnificence  of  the  sight  is  due,  Egypt  cannot  boast. 

The  vivid  white  stretches  of  the  buttressing  curtains  of  stone, 
each  a  wilderness  of  close-ranked  windows  and  the  home  of  the 
hundreds  of  crimson-clad  dwarfs  who  sun  themselves  at  the  dis- 
tant stairheads,  strike  a  clean  and  harmonious  note  in  the  sea  of 
green  which  washes  up  to  their  base.  Once  a  year  the  walls  of  the 
Potala  are  washed  with  white,  and  no  one  can  gainsay  the  effect ; 
but  there  is  yet  the  full  chord  of  color  to  be  sounded.  The  central 
building  of  the  palace,  the  Phodang  Marpo,  the  private  home  of 
the  incarnate  divinity  himself,  stands  out  four-square  upon  and 
between  the  wide  supporting  bulks  of  masonry  a  rich  red-crimson, 
and,  most  perfect  touch  of  all,  over  it  against  the  sky  the  glittering 
golden  roofs— a  note  of  glory  added  with  the  infinite  taste  and  the 
sparing  hand  of  the  old  illuminator— recompose  the  color  scheme 
from  end  to  end,  a  sequence  of  green  in  three  shades,  of  white,  of 


3^6  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

maroon,  of  gold,  and  of  pale  blue.  The  brown  yak-hair  curtain, 
eighty  feet  in  height  and  twenty-five  across,  hangs  like  a  tress  of 
hair  down  the  very  center  of  the  central  sanctuary  hiding  the  cen- 
tral recess.  Such  is  the  Potala.  In  a  way  it  recalls  the  dominion 
of  the  Shwe  Dagon  over  Rangoon,  though  in  every  aspect  of  con- 
struction, ornamentation,  and  surrounding  it  would  be  hard  to 
imagine  two  buildings  more  entirely  different  in  every  detail  than 
these  two  greatest  erections  of  modern  Buddhism. 

The  utter  disproportion  between  the  palace  and  the  town  re- 
mains a  wonder,  but  a  wonder  devoid  of  a  trace  of  falsity  or  os- 
tentation, rather  a  wonder  full  of  a  deeper  meaning.  The  petty 
town  which  lies  a  mile  away  beyond  the  trees  helps,  by  its  very 
insignificance,  to  emphasize  the  tremendous  gulf  that  in  Tibet 
yawns  between  the  people  and  their  priests.  In  that  town  there 
was  indeed  the  true  sanctuary  of  the  faith ;  in  that  town  there  was 
the  idol  which  the  largest  faith  of  all  the  world  holds  sacred  be- 
yond all  earthly  things,  and  underneath  those  far  distant  golden 
roofs  of  the  Jo-kang  the  wealth  and  tradition  of  the  whole  creed 
lay  enshrined.  Moreover,  there  is  nothing  inside  the  Potala  par- 
ticularly sacred,  particularly  rich,  or  particularly  beautiful.  But 
unconsciously  it  thus  symbolizes  all  the  more  the  vast  erection  of 
power  and  pride  which  separates  the  priestly  caste  of  Tibet  from 
the  real  truths  of  the  religion  they  have  prostituted.  The  fearful 
sanctity  which  hedges  about  the  person  of  their  divine  ruler  is 
here  in  Lhasa  demonstrated  in  a  manner  that  must  impress  the 
dullest  pilgrim.  That  double-edged  weapon  seclusion,  which  the 
Pope,  in  magnificent  retirement  in  the  Vatican,  is  now  using  with 
doubtful  success  at  Rome,  has  long  been  in  the  armory  of  the 
Grand  Lama  of  Tibet.  The  Tibetan*  policy  of  isolation  receives 
here  its  only  possible  justification  by  a  success  that  is  startling  in 
its  sufficiency,  and  one  can  well  understand  that  a  visit  to  Lhasa 
"  satisfies  the  soul  "  of  the  most  recalcitrant  subject  of  His  Holi- 
ness.   I  have  said  much  in  these  volumes  to  the  discredit  of  La- 


lV*:-i  ■  4fejjp«J§(^|!JV(J^: 


LHASA,  I  327 

maism,  and  I  have  said  it  with  deHberation  and  conviction;  but 
this  panorama  of  Lhasa  batters  down  helplessly  the  prejudices  of 
a  quieter  hour.  Lamaism  may  be  an  engine  of  oppression,  but  its 
victims  do  not  protest;  and  there  before  one's  eyes  at  last  is 
Lhasa,  It  may  be  a  barrier  to  all  human  improvement ;  it  may  be 
a  living  type  of  all  that  we  in  the  West  have  fought  against  and 
at  last  overcome,  of  bigotry,  cruelty,  and  slavery ;  but  under  the 
fierce  sun  of  that  day  and  the  white  gauze  of  the  almost  unclouded 
sky  of  Lhasa,  it  was  not  easy  to  find  fault  with  the  creed,  how- 
ever narrow  and  merciless,  which  built  the  Potala  palace  and  laid 
out  the  green  spaces  at  its  foot.  In  this  paradise  of  cool  water  and 
green  leaves,  hidden  away  among  the  encircling  snows  of  the 
highest  mountain  ranges  of  the  world,  Lamaism  has  upraised  the 
stones  and  gold  of  Lhasa,  and  nothing  but  Lamaism  could  have 
done  this  thing.  To  Lamaism  alone  we  owe  it  that  when  at  last 
the  sight  of  the  farthest  goal  of  all  travel  burst  upon  our  eyes,  it 
was  worthy,  full  worthy,  of  all  the  rumor  and  glamour  and  ro- 
mance with  which  in  the  imaginings  of  man  it  has  been  invested 
for  so  many  years. 

If  you  will  tear  your  gaze  away  from  the  Potala  you  may  see  the 
Ling-kor  lying  below  you  like  a  thread,  betrayed  here  and  there 
by  a  gap  in  the  leafage  of  the  gardens.  Before  you  in  the  distance 
the  turquoise  Kyi  chu,  "  river  of  delight,"  moves  lazily  between 
its  wide  white  dunes,  here  elbowed  out  of  its  course  by  a  spur  of 
the  hills,  there  shorn  and  parceled  by  a  heavy  outcrop  of  water- 
worn  stones  and  the  miniature  cliffs  of  a  dazzling  sand-bank. 
Across  the  mile-wide  bed  of  the  river  cultivation  begins  again, 
and  you  may  see  plantations,  fields,  and  houses  all  the  way  up  to  * 
where  the  wind-blown  buttresses  of  sand  blanket  the  hollow  scarp 
of  the  southern  hills.  Far  away  in  the  distance  beyond  the  town 
the  plain  still  stretches,  always  the  same  marshy  expanse  jagged 
and  indented  by  the  spurs  of  the  encircling  hills ;  six  miles  away 


328  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

it  closes  in  to  the  east  at  the  point  to  which  the  curving  thread  of 
the  high  road  to  China  makes  its  uncertain  way,  banked  high 
across  the  morass. 

Just  where  the  dun  town  encroaches  upon  the  greenery  you 
may  see  clearly  the  famous  Yutok  Sampa  or  Turquoise-roofed 
Bridge.  To  the  right  is  the  Amban's  house,  almost  completely 
hidden  in  its  trees,  and  on  the  other  side  of  the  Jo-kang's  gilded 
canopies,  far  away  to  the  left,  rise  the  steep,  unbeautiful  walls  of 
the  Meru  gompa,  the  last  house  in  Lhasa  to  the  north-east ;  to  the 
west  of  it,  amid  the  greenery  of  its  plantations,  flash  the  golden 
ridge-poles  of  Ramo-che,  after  the  Jo-kang  itself  the  most  sacred 
of  all  temples  in  Tibet.  But,  believe  me,  when  you  have  marked 
these  historic  points  the  eye  will  helplessly  revert  again  to  the  Po- 
tala;  it  is  a  new  glory  added  to  the  known  architecture  of  the 
world. 

Nothing  in  Lhasa,  excepting  always  the  interior  of  the  Jo- 
kang,  comes  up  to  this  magnificent  prelude.  If  a  traveler  knows 
that  the  cathedral  doors  are  hopelessly  shut  to  him,  his  wisest 
course  would  be  to  sit  a  day  or  two  upon  this  spur  of  Chagpo-ri 
and  then  depart,  making  no  further  trial  of  the  town ;  for  he  will 
never  catch  again  that  spell  of  almost  awed  thanksgiving  that 
there  should  be  so  beautiful  a  sight  hidden  among  these  icy  and 
inaccessible  mountain  crests,  and  that  it  should  have  been  given 
to  him  to  be  one  of  the  few  to  see  it. 

The  camp  was  by  this  time  pitched,  and  the  Amban  paid 
Colonel  Younghusband  a  formal  visit.  He  and  the  Dalai  Lama 
are  the  only  two  in  Tibet  who  are  allowed  to  use  the  sedan-chair, 
and  the  sight  of  the  Amban  making  a  formal  visit  is  not  un- 
'  interesting.  He  is  preceded  by  ten  unarmed  servants  clad  in 
lavender-blue,  edged  and  patterned  with  black  velvet.  Immedi- 
ately behind  them  come  forty  men-at-arms  similarly  dressed  in 
cardinal  and  black,  bearing  lances,  scythe-headed  poles,  tridents, 
and  banners ;  after  them  come  the  secretaries  and  their  servants, 


THE  CHINESE  REPRESENTATIVES   IN   LHASA    MEETING 
COLONEL  YOUNGHUSBAND  FOR  THE  FIRST  TIME 


LHASA,  I  329 

and  then,  borne  by  ten  men,  his  Excellency  In  his  chair.*  There 
was  no  great  importance  in  this  first  visit  of  ceremony.  But  it 
was  returned  by  Colonel  Younghusband  on  the  following  day, 
and,  if  you  please,  we  will  ride  behind  the  Colonel  as  he  passes 
through  the  streets  of  Lhasa  on  his  way  to  and  from  the  Resi- 
dency. Now  instead  of  passing  to  the  south  of  the  Pargo  Ka- 
ling,  we  go  underneath  the  gilt-ribbed  and  celestially  crowned 
chorten  which  tops  the  western  gate  between  the  two  guardian 
hills. ^  There  is  a  protective  railing  of  timber  along  both  sides 
of  the  interior  of  the  gate  and  a  blue  deity  in  his  most  "  terrible  " 
aspect  is  painted  on  the  left-hand  wall. 

Immediately  inside  the  gate  the  road  turns  to  the  left,  and  a 
good  view  is  to  be  had  of  the  Potala  palace  rising  above  the 
walled  square  of  houses  and  stables  and  prisons  at  the  foot  of 
the  rock.  Between  the  gate  and  this  inclosure  is  a  small  village 
tucked  up  under  the  rock,  not  more  than  thirty  houses  in  all, 
dirty,  squalid,  and  stinking,  although  it  is  under  the  very  thresh- 
old of  the  Grand  Lama's  magnificent  residence.  Five  hundred 
yards  on  an  obelisk  rises  in  the  middle  of  the  road;  this,  which 
is  almost  opposite  the  center  of  the  palace,  was  set  up  to  record 
the  pacification  of  Tibet  and  the  domination  of  the  Chinese  in 
1720.  The  inscription  was  carved  three  years  later,  and  it  is 
noticeable  that  in  it  the  name  of  the  Tashi  Lama  precedes  that  of 
his  brother  of  Lhasa.  The  road  continues  for  a  little  space  and 
then  divides  abruptly  into  two  tracks,  that  to  the  left  keeping 
straight  on  toward  the  palace  of  the  Yabshi  family  and  the 
northern  part  of  the  city,  that  on  the  right  continuing  between 

*  It  is  interesting  to  note  that  the  Chinese  have  such  a  contempt  for  Tibet 
that  the  viceroy  never  takes  full  official  dress  with  him  to  Lhasa ;  negotiations 
were,  therefore,  carried  on  with  the  Amban  with  less  formal  ceremony  than 
would  have  been  considered  necessary  under  other  circumstances,  though  the 
Commissioner  and  his  staff,  to  their  great  discomfort,  always  wore  correct 
diplomatic  uniform  in  their  intercourse ,  with  both  Chinese  and  Tibetans. 

*  This  is  in  shape  a  typical  "  stupa,"  with  the  exception  that  the  road  passes 
through  it,  making  a  clear  tunnel  in  the  center. 


330  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

fields  and  green  swamps,  acres  of  barley,  and  willow  plantations 
to  the  Yutok  Sampa. 

This  bridge  is  reckoned  by  the  Tibetans  and  the  Chinese  to  be 
one  of  the  five  beauties  of  Lhasa.^  It  is  a  plain  structure,  and 
its  general  character  is  excellently  shown  by  Countess  Helena 
Gleichen's  picture.  The  tiles  must  have  been  brought  from 
China,  and  in  the  course  of  many  centuries  the  blue  glaze,  which 
has  given  the  bridge  its  name,  has  been  worn  off  from  projecting 
edges  and  points,  and  the  rich  Indian  red  of  the  clay  mingles  most 
beautifully  with  the  prevailing  color.  Inside  it  is  painted  with 
the  same  dull  greenish  blue  as  that  with  which  the  Pargo  Kaling 
is  decorated.  There  are  small  sacred  images  under  the  project- 
ing roof  at  either  end  of  the  bridge,  and  inside  there  is  a  deco- 
rative design  on  the  lintel  of  the  gates.  It  stretches  across  a 
swampy  marsh  through  which  at  that  season  the  water  was  cut- 
ting small  channels,  gay  with  vivid  grass  and  primulas.  Through 
the  Yutok  Sampa  the  road  turned  sharply  to  the  left  and  the 
gate  of  Lhasa  proper  was  before  us ;  it  is  a  plain  hole  in  the  wall 
without  decoration,  and  without  even  a  door. 

Immediately  in  front  as  one  penetrates  through  the  wall  is 
a  wide  open  space  with  a  stream  of  water  running  down  between 
weeds  and  bushes  from  the  left ;  following  up  this  direction  with 
the  eye,  the  street  is  seen  to  turn  into  a  small  square,  and  at  one 
end  of  it  a  gigantic  willow-tree  towers  high  above  the  flat,  low- 
lying  roofs.  This  is  the  famous  tree  that  grows  opposite  the 
western  front  of  the  Jo-kang,  of  which  one  can  from  the  gate 
see  but  the  tops  of  its  golden  roofs  towering  above  the  dull,  flat 
buildings  with  which  the  cathedral  is  surrounded.  In  front,  and 
indeed  in  all  other  directions,  are  the  squat,  uninteresting  mud 
houses  of  Lhasa.  The  Chinese  quarter,  immediately  to  our  right, 

*  These  five  sights  are  believed  by  the  Chinese  to  be,  with  the  exception  of 
the  Jo-kang,  or,  as  they  call  it,  the  Ta-chao,  itself,  the  most  ancient  renaains  in 
the  capital. 


2; 
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LHASA,  I  331 

which  in  general  is  far  better  kept  than  other  parts  of  a  Tibetan 
community,  is  as  bad  as  the  others.  We  turned  off  in  this  di- 
rection through  the  quarter  and  emerged  immediately  into  another 
wide  space  of  which  the  unevennesses  were  indicated  by  great 
pools  of  black-scummed  water.  Under  some  squalid  willows  divid- 
ing this  open  space  from  the  gate,  the  main  drain  of  the  town  runs 
fetidly  between  black  banks,  passing  beneath  the  very  walls  of 
the  Residency.  On  these  stinking  eminences  herds  of  black  pigs 
were  grouting  about  among  rubbish  heaps  more  than  usually  re- 
pulsive in  their  composition.  Across  the  square  rose  the  timber 
gate  of  the  Amban's  reserve,  and  we  cavalcaded  across  to  it, 
splashing  through  the  water-pools  and  jostling  from  their  filthy 
meal  the  privileged  scavengers  of  the  town. 

The  Residency  deserves  no  long  description:  you  enter  and 
turn  to  the  right  between  the  two  usual  Chinese  "  lions,"  and 
after  passing  through  a  couple  of  courts  overhung  with  poplars 
you  arrive  in  the  durbar  hall,  with  its  red  and  green  hangings  and 
.  green  and  gold-flecked  doors.  It  is  a  poor  little  room  and  the  ceil- 
■  ing  is  adorned  with  irregularly  shaped  pieces  of  paper  with  a  red 
all-overish  pattern.  Here  we  had  a  durbar,  and  some  excellent 
little  cigars  were  handed  round  alternately  with  tea — made,  we 
were  glad  to  find,  after  the  Chinese  habit — and  Huntley  and 
Palmer's  biscuits.  Colonel  Younghusband  intimated  to  the  Ara- 
ban  that  it  would  be  as  well  for  all  concerned  if  immediate  atten- 
tion were  paid  to  the  reasonable  and  proper  demands  of  the 
English.  The  Amban,  as  usual,  deprecated  the  foolishness  of  his 
Tibetan  flock,  but  seemed  more  preoccupied  with  the  precarious- 
ness  of  his  own  position  than  anything  else.  His  memory  dwelt 
somewhat  persistently  upon  the  assassinations  which  had  over- 
taken two  of  his  predecessors  in  office ;  and  there  could  be  no  doubt 
about  it  that  he  was  honestly  relieved  when  our  force  encamped 
outside  Lhasa. 

The  concealed  band  was  playing  when  we  arrived,  and  this 


332  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

again  struck  up  the  Oriental  melody  as  we  left  the  place,  but  the 
bombs  which  had  been  exploded  in  the  Commissioner's  honor 
on  our  arrival  were  not  repeated,  greatly,  I  think,  to  every  one's 
relief,  for  as  the  first  went  off  we  all  feared  that  Macdonald  in  the 
camp  outside  would  take  it  as  a  sign  of  treachery,  and  we  knew 
that  he  had  his  guns  laid  on  the  Potala  as  we  sat  in  durbar  in  the 
city. 

We  returned  by  another  route,  again  crossing  the  black  swamp 
which,  it  will  be  remembered,  constitutes  one  of  the  "  five 
beauties  "  of  Lhasa.  We  passed  into  the  other  open  space,  which 
we  crossed  diagonally  toward  the  sacred  willow.  We  turned 
up  the  street  I  have  referred  to  and  passed  to  the  left  of  the  tree 
in  its  walled  inclosure.  This  diverted  the  course  of  the  small 
column — 300  rifles  had  come  in  with  the  Commissioner,  and  we 
had  as  well  forty  of  the  comic-opera  guard  of  the  Chinese  Resi- 
dency— from  passing  the  actual  front  of  \he  Jo-kang.  I  was, 
however,  able  to  inspect  the  Do-ring,  and  get  the  first  glimpse 
of  the  Cathedral  from  inside  the  small  paved  inclosure  bounded 
to  the  east  by  the  timbered  and  painted  portico  and  hang- 
ing draperies  of  the  Jo-kang.  A  crowd  of  villainous-looking 
monks  were  gathered  sullenly  before  the  great  barred  doors. 
A  description  of  the  Do-ring  will  be  found  later  on  in  the  chapter 
dealing  with  the  Jo-kang.  I  rejoined  the  column  which  was  mak- 
ing its  way  up  toward  the  Yabshi  house,  and  thence  struck  off 
sharply  to  the  left  along  the  wide  road,  or  rather  the  continual 
puddle,  which,  running  between  the  adobe  walls  of  monasteries 
or  well-wooded  gardens,  brings  you  back  to  the  foot  of  the  Potala 
and  thence  to  the  Pargo  Kaling  gate.  It  must  be  confessed  that 
to  judge  from  this  itinerary  the  town  itself  of  Lhasa  would  com- 
pare but  badly  with  the  capital  of  even  a  third  rate  petty  chief  in 
India.  The  buildings  lack  distinction,  though  on  a  closer  exami- 
nation it  must  be  confessed  that  the  walls  of  the  better  houses 
were  often  soundly  built  and  of  strong  material.     Granite  is 


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LHASA,  I  333 

used  in  large  splintered  blocks  for  nearly  every  one  of  the  bigger 
houses  of  the  town;  but  if  the  original  description  of  the  place 
by  Father  Andrada  had  any  real  foundation,  the  capital  of  Tibet 
has  changed  sadly  for  the  worse,  for  not  even  the  kindliest 
advocate  could  find  in  the  slosh  and  filth  of  every  street,  or  in 
the  ramshackle  structures  which  cumber  every  available  inch  of 
ground  beside  the  heavier  houses,  the  well-paved  thoroughfares 
and  dignified  architecture  which  he  describes. 

About  three  hundred  yards  north  of  the  Jo-kang,  before  reach- 
ing the  Yabshi  turning  where  the  chorten  stands,  the  street 
edges  along  a  wide  open  space,  chiefly  swamp  and  ruin,  across 
which  the  Meru  gompa  can  easily  be  seen.  The  only  interest 
attaching  to  this  gompa  is  that,  so  far  as  can  be  ascertained,  it 
has  been  built  over  the  site  of  the  old  Christian  chapel.  If  the 
actual  site  of  the  chapel  is  not  covered  by  the  monastery  build- 
ings, it  can  safely  be  asserted  that  the  chapel  and  the  surrounding 
buildings  of  the  mission  have  been  totally  destroyed,  for  a  space, 
clear  of  all  but  a  few  trees,  exists  on  every  side  of  the  present 
Lamasery.    The  bell  of  the  mission  is  still  in  existence  in  Lhasa. 

The  story  of  this  mission  has  been  well  told  in  a  recent  volume 
by  the  Rev.  Graham  Sandberg.  Briefly  stated,  its  somewhat  in- 
glorious history  is  this.  In  1708  the  Propaganda  sent  four 
Capuchin  friars  from  India  through  Katmandu  and  Gyantse  to 
Lhasa  to  found  a  mission.  Three  years  later  the  adult  conver- 
sions claimed  by  the  whole  chain  of  outposts  of  the  "  Tibetan 
mission  "  were  two  in  number,  and  as  the  report  from  which 
this  is  taken  included  the  results  of  proselytization  in  Bengal 
and  in  Nepal  as  well  as  Tibet,  it  is  perhaps  possible  that  no 
Tibetan  had  seen  reason  to  change  his  faith.  In  171 3,  after  a  gap 
of  two  years,  missionary  effort  was  again  attempted,  and  in  171 5 
we  find  the  mission  once  more  established  in  Lhasa.  But  these 
were  troublous  times,  and  the  active  hostility  between  the  Dalai 
Lama  and  the  Chinese  Emperor  prevented  that  tranquillity  in 


334  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

which  alone  lay  any  hopes  of  successful  work  for  the  worthy 
friars.  They  were  in  continual  danger,  and  even  the  valiant 
claim  of  Father  della  Penna  to  have  half  converted  the  Dalai 
Lama  himself  does  not  convince  the  student  that  any  serious 
ground  had  been  gained.  Mr.  Sandberg  gives  in  full  the  terms 
of  a  document  granting  permission  to  build  a  Christian  chapel 
to  the  Capuchins.  Unfortunately  a  flood  in  Lhasa  in  the  follow- 
ing year,  1725,  was  attributed  by  the  people  to  the  desecration 
of  the  sacred  soil  of  the  city  by  the  erection  of  a  heretical  place 
of  w6rship.  Things  became  so  serious  that  the  regent  of  Tibet 
himself  issued  a  proclamation  affirming  that  the  cause  of  the 
late  floods  had  been  declared  by  the  head  of  the  Sam-ye  mon- 
astery to  be  not  the  erection  of  this  chapel,  but  the  sins  and 
wickedness  of  the  Tibetans  themselves.  The  little  church  was 
finished  and  eleven  Christians  were  present  at  its  consecration; 
of  this  number  four  or  five  were,  of  course,  accounted  for  by  the 
monks  themselves,  and  by  the  admission  of  della  Penna  himself, 
the  majority  of  the  eleven  were  N^waris — that  is,  half-caste 
Nepalese,  whose  previous  religion  was  almost  certainly  Mahom- 
medanism.  It  is  even  said  that  the  Grand  Lama  himself  visited 
the  chapel. 

Some  years  before,  the  Jesuits  in  Rome,  with  their  proverbial 
jealousy,  had  prevailed  upon  the  Propaganda  to  send  two  of  their 
number,  for  no  other  purpose  than  that  of  spying  upon  the 
work  of  the  mission  in  Lhasa.  It  can  be  imagined  what  effect 
Was  caused  by  the  presence  together  in  Lhasa  of  rival  representa- 
tives of  two  Christian  communities,  who  could  not  carry  on  the 
sacred  work  with  which  they  were  intrusted  without  betraying 
to  the  inhabitants  the  unfortunate  dissensions  of  their  Christian 
visitors.  Ippolito  Desideri,  with  a  Eurasian  companion,  Manuel 
Freyre,  arrived  in  Lhasa  for  this  purpose  on  March  i8th,  17 16, 
and  although  a  kind  of  armed  neutrality  subsisted  between  the 
two  factions,  it  was  probably  a  relief  to  all  concerned  when  Pope 


•J*l^'" 


■:^^^^-r:^-^-y 


LHASA,  I  535 

Clement  sent  a  peremptory  order  in  1721  that  Desideri  and  his 
companion  should  leave  the  country.  After  a  long  stay  in  India 
he  returned  to  Rome  and  set  forth  the  case  for  the  prosecution. 
The  Propaganda,  however,  after  four  years'  deliberation,  decided 
in  favor  of  the  Capuchins,  but  this  was  only  twelve  months  be- 
fore the  flame  of  Christianity  again  flickered  out  in  Lhasa  in  the 
year  1733. 

In  1740,  as  the  result  of  a  direct  appeal  to  Rome  by  Father 
della  Penna,  this  worthy  man  again  set  out  with  one  Cassiano 
Beligatti,  of  Macerata,  and  reached  Lhasa  on  the  5th  of  Jan- 
uary, 1 74 1.  The  old  buildings  were  re-occupied,  but  the  op- 
position of  the  lamas  was  destined  to  achieve  its  end,  and  on 
April  20th,  1745,  after  four  years  of  dispiriting  ill-success, 
that  fine  old  warrior,  della  Penna,  with  tears  in  his  eyes,  turned 
his  back  for  the  last  time  upon  Lhasa  and  the  darling  pro- 
ject of  his  life.  It  was  the  death  of  the  poor  old  man,  who 
three  months  later  was  laid  to  rest  in  the  little  cemetery  of 
Pathan. 

By  any  one  who  has  seen  the  place  there  can  hardly  be  con- 
ceived a  more  despairing  and  disheartening  field  for  missionary 
effort  than  that  provided  by  Lhasa. 

Lhasa,  it  has  been  said,  must  be  conceived  as  a  town  of  low 
uninteresting  houses  herded  together  in  an  aimless  confusion, 
but  beyond  question  the  most  ragged  and  disreputable  quarter 
of  all  is  that  occupied  by  the  famous  tribe  of  Ragyabas,  or  beg- 
gar-scavengers. These  men  are  also  the  breakers  up  of  the 
dead.  It  is  difficult  to  imagine  a  more  repulsive  occupation, 
a  more  brutalized  type  of  humanity,  and,  above  all,  a  more 
abominable  and  foul  sort  of  hovel  than  those  which  are  char- 
acteristic of  these  men.  Filthy  in  appearance,  half-naked,  half- 
clothed  in  obscene  rags,  these  nasty  folk  live  in  houses  which  a 
respectable  pig  would  refuse  to  occupy.  The  characteristic  type 
of  hut  is  about  four  feet  in  height,  compounded  of  filth  and  the 


336  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

horns  of  cattle.^  These  men  exact  high  fees  for  disposing  cere- 
monially of  dead  bodies.  The  limbs  and  trunk  of  the  de- 
ceased person  are  hacked  apart  and  exposed  on  low  flat  stones 
until  they  are  consumed  by  the  dogs,  pigs,  and  vultures  with 
which. Lhasa  swarms.  The  flesh  of  the  pigs  is  highly  esteemed 
in  Lhasa,  and  indeed  to  the  taste  it  is  as  good  as  most  pork; 
but  after  you  have  seen  the  Ragyaba  quarter  and  heard  the 
story  of  the  manner  in  which  the  Tibetans  dispose  of  their  dead, 
you  will  be  little  inclined  to  eat  it  again. 

Chandra  Das  reports  that  these  Ragyabas  are  recognized  by 
the  authorities  as  a  tribe  of  refuge  for  all  the  rascals  in  the 
country,  whose  place  of  origin  cannot  be  ascertained;  he  also 
mentions  a  curious  legend  that  if  a  day  passes  without  a  burial, 
if  the  word  may  be  used,  ill-fortune  is  certain  to  overtake  Lhasa.' 
Recruited  from  such  sources,  accustomed  to  live  among  sur- 
roundings more  disgusting  by  far  than  those  of  the  Australian 
aborigines,  this  guild  presents  a  study  which  cannot  fail  to  be 

*  This  horn  masonry  is  one  of  the  best-known  characteristics  of  Lhasa.  So 
far  as  I  know  it  is  found  nowhere  else  in  the  world,  and  therefore  deserves  a 
passing  mention.  It  is  of  two  kinds.  One  sort  shows  the  exquisite  regular- 
ity and  care  with  which  these  horns  are  at  times  inserted  into  the  mortared 
surface  of  a  wall,  which  internally  is  also  strengthened  by  a  rubble  also  com- 
posed of  the  same  material.  In  other  cases  no  outside  covering  is  attempted, 
and  the  horns  are  simply  thrust  into  a  mass  of  mud  wall  which  probably  does 
not  survive  the  year.    Of  this  latter  class  are  the  Ragyaba  huts. 

*  Three  other  incidents  are  said  to  portend  disaster  to  the  country: — (i) 
It  has  long  been  a  proverb  that  when  the  snow  ceased  to  fall  the  English 
would  arrive  in  Lhasa.  This,  of  course,  was  tantamount  to  never,  but  it  was 
so  far  justified  on  the  present  occasion  that  never  within  the  memory  of  the 
oldest  Tibetan  had  so  little  snow  fallen  upon  the  passes  to  the  south.  (2) 
Disaster  shall  overtake  Tibet  when  rice  grows  at  Phari.  If  it  were  true  that 
disaster  could  only  come  in  this  way  the  Tibetans  might  indeed  feel  them- 
selves secure,  though  I  believe  Mr.  Walsh  made  an  amusing  but  entirely  un- 
successful attempt  to  make  use  of  the  short  Tibetan  summer  at  Phari  for  the 
purpose  of  planting  a  miniature  and  carefully  tended  paddy-field.  (3)  The 
lowness  of  the  waters  in  the  great  lakes  is  a  further  sign  of  impending 
trouble.  By  common  consent  the  waters  of  the  Bam  tso  and  of  the  Kala  tso 
had  never  been  lower. 


D 

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LHASA,  I  337 

of  interest  to  the  ethnologist :  the  more  ordinary  traveler  will 
soon  have  seen  sufficient  of  this  loathsome  tribe.* 

These  men  compose  the  only  community  peculiar  to  Lhasa. 
For  the  rest,  lay  and  cleric  alike,  the  inhabitants  are  similar 
to  those  of  the  rest  of  Tibet.  There  is  indeed  but  one  difference 
even  in  the  dress.  In  the  province  of  Tsang,  as  will  be  remem- 
bered, the  women  use  a  turquoise  studded  halo  as  a  head-dress; 
in  Lhasa  a  fillet  ornamented  in  the  same  way  is  bound  close  down 
over  their  Madonna-parted  hair.  The  two  braids  are  then  fluffed 
out  on  either  side  and  fall  down  over  the  shoulders.  It.  is  one 
of  the  most  becoming  ways  of  doing  the  hair  that  I  have  ever 
seen,  and  for  a  certain  type  the  entire  dress  of  a  woman  of 
Lhasa  would  be  a  not  unbecoming  costume  for  a  fancy-dress 
ball  at  home. 

The  dress  of  both  men  and  women  is  very  similar;  there  is 
a  single  undergarment  and  one  heavy  native  cloth  robe,  dun 
or  crimson  in  color  and  usually  patched,  which  both  sexes  pull 
in  round  the  waist  with  a  girdle — the  men  pouching  it  at  the 
waist  to  form  the  only  pocket  that  they  use.  Into  this  fold 
of  the  over-garment  the  Tibetan  slips  everything  which  he  will 
need  throughout  the  day,  the  little  wooden  bowls  in  which  he 
eats  his  meals,  a  brass  pot  with  which  to  do  his  cooking,  a  pair 
of  shoes  perhaps,  and  certainly  one  or  two  gau-os  or  charm  boxes. 
These  last  are  at  Lhasa  larger  than  elsewhere,  and  are  often 
finished  with  extreme  delicacy ;  the  silver  front  of  the  better  class 
of  gau-o  is  often  beautifully  chased  in  a  design  which  strongly 
resembles  good  Italian  work  of  the  seventeenth  century.  A 
good  specimen  will  sometimes  measure  five  inches  by  four  by 
two,  and  it  will  contain  a  heterogeneous  mass  of  paper  prayers 

'They  are,  as  a  rule,  considered  outcast  from  every  profession  or  circle 
except  their  own,  but  on  one  occasion  the  Dalai  Lama  enlisted  the  Ragyabas 
into  the  Lhasa  regiment  to  replace  the  losses  which  that  corps  had  sustained 
at  Guru. 


338  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

and  charms  and  objects  specially  blessed,  such  as  grain,  or  pills 
containing  the  remains  of  the  body  of  deceased  lamas,  just  as 
in  other  parts  of  Tibet.  The  high  officials  of  state  add  gold  and 
brocade  to  their  dress  in  an  increasing  amount  until  the  position 
of  sha-pe  is  reached,  when  the  entire  robe  is  of  vivid  orange 
yellow  brocaded  silk,  lined  with  blue;  the  hat  of  the  sha-pe  is  a 
Chinese  cap  of  yellow  silk  turned  up  with  black  velvet,  and  the 
coral  or  second-class  Chinese  button  is  almost  invariably  worn 
upon  it.* 

The.  variety  of  hats  at  Lhasa  is  extraordinary.  Almost  every 
conceivable  form  of  headgear  is  to  be  found  there,  from  a  yel- 
low woolen  Britannia's  helmet  to  a  varnished  and  gilded  wooden 
pot  with  a  wide  circular  brim.  One  shape  suggests  an  inverted 
flower-pot  bearing  upon  the  top  a  much  larger  flower-pot  the 
right  way  ujp;  others  are  high  Welsh  hats  of  yellow  silk  with 
a  "-cap  of  maintenance"  turn-up  of  black  or  yellow,  while  one 
most  remarkable  of  air  is  nothing  else  than  a  circular  pleated 
crimson  lamp-shade  with  a  four-inch  valance  or  flounce  of  the 
same  material.  The  most  ai*.tistic  headgear  in  Lhasa  is  that 
of  the  servants  of  the  Nepalese  Resident.  These  men  wear 
tightly  fitting  black  leather  caps  with  a  plain  band  running 
round  them,  bearing  a  flame-shaped  ornament  of  gold  or 
silver,  held  in  its  place  in.  front  by  a  plain  twisted  claw  of  the 
same  material  running  back  on  both  sides  to  just  above  the  ears. 

*  In  China  itself  the  use  of  these  buttons  is  carefully  regulated,  though 
every  man  is  permitted  by  custom  to  wear  the  button  of  one  higher  class  than 
his  own ;  this,  however,  does  not  apply  to  the  use  of  the  first-class  button,  a 
transparent  red  color,  which  is  used  by  the  royal  family  alone.  The  second- 
class  is  of  opaque  pink,  the  third  of  transparent  blue,  the  fourth  opaque  blue, 
the  fifth  of  transparent  crystal,  the  sixth  opaque  white.  Below  this  comes 
the  gold  button,  which  may  be  worn  by  any  one,  and  is,  therefore,  hardly  worn 
at  all.  The  use  of  these  buttons  in  Tibet  by  officials  of  different  classes  is 
very  clearly  laid  down,  but.no  attention  whatever  is  paid  to  the  rules.  The 
coral  button,  which  is  the  highest  permitted  to  any  one  in  the  land,  is  appar- 
ently used  by  any  and  every  one  who  cares  to  buy  it.  These  remarks  do  not, 
of  course,  apply  to  the  Chinese  Viceroy  and  his  staff,  who  naturally  keep  to 
the  stricter  rules  of  their  own  country. 


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LHASA,  I  339 

The  Tongsa  Penlop  himself  still  went  abroad  with  bare  feet 
and  his  uncloven  Homburg  hat. 

The  Nepalese  Resident  met  us  when  we  reached  Lhasa.  One 
is  reminded  of  him  at  this  moment  because  his  overcoat  was  one 
of  the  most  gorgeous  pieces  of  Oriental  embroidery  I  had  ever 
seen;  quietly  dressed  in  all  other  respects  and  personally  an 
unassuming  man,  his  outer  garment  made  him  recognizable  at 
a  distance  of  a  mile.  It  was  of  delicate  pink  satin  sewn  all 
over  with  silver  and  gold  lace  and  imitation  pearls,  latticing  down 
some  really  very  fine  flower  embroidery  in  myrtle  green  and  rose. 
He  is  a  shrewd  man,  and  we  owe  him  a  debt  of  gratitude  for  the 
common-sense  advice  he  always  gave  the  Tibetans. 

To  return  to  the  features  of  Lhasa.  The  Ling-kor,  or  sacred 
way,  incloses  the  city  and  Potala  palace,  as  has  been  described, 
with  a  loop  of  road,  sometimes  twenty  feet  wide,  sometimes 
hardly  three.  It  is  now  a  wide  sandy  expanse  from  which  the 
noonday  sun  is  fiercely  beaten  back;  now  a  cool  firm  path  under 
the  shade  of  the  poplars  of  the  Lu-kang;  now  an  up-and-down 
bridle-track  worn  smooth  and  slippery  by  millions  of  naked 
footfalls  along  the  limestone  cliffs  overhanging  the  Kyi  chu  it- 
self; now  a  part  of  the  filthy  swine-infested  street  which  skirts 
the  dirty  Ragyaba  quarter,  three  inches  deep  in  black  iridescent 
mud. 

From  dawn  to  dusk  along  this  road  moves  a  procession,  men 
and  women,  monks  and  laymen.  They  shufile  along  slowly, 
not  unwilling  now  and  then  to  exchange  a  word  with  a  com- 
panion overtaken— they  all  go  round  the  same  way  and  therefore 
they  meet  no  one— but,  as  a  rule,  with  a  vacant  look  of  abstrac- 
tion from  all  earthly  things  they  swing  their  prayer-wheels  and 
mutter  ceaselessly  beneath  their  breath  the  sacred  formula  which 
shuts  for  them  the  doors  of  their  six  hells.  Let  us  go  round 
with  them. 

Coming  in  from  the  west,  one  turns  off  into  the  road  just 


340  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

by  the  patch  of  cocks,  passing  the  grimy  and  squalid  yak-hair 
tents  of  the  beggars,  where  dogs  crawl  in  and  out,  and  in  the  in- 
tervals give  themselves  up  to  the  same  necessary  and  Oriental 
occupation  as  do  their  masters  and  mistresses.  A  field  of  barley 
and  peas  is  on  the  right  hand,  and  on  the  left  the  sand  revetments 
of  the  Kaling  chu.  Four  hundred  yards  on,  the  Ling-kor  takes 
a  sharp  turn  to  the  right  after  passing  a  green  swamp  in  which 
the  pollard  willows  stand  ankle-deep  in  clear  brown  pools;  on 
the  left  the  sand-bank  which  we  here  leave  still  hides  from 
the  pilgrim  all  sight  of  the  valley  to  the  west.  Hard  by  there 
is  a  group  of  tall  poplars  standing  sentinel  at  the  corner  of  a 
plantation  of  lower  trees,  and  the  glaucous  willow-thorn  at  their 
foot  is  weighed  down  with  yellow  clematis,  partly  in  flower, 
partly  in  silver-threaded  fluff.  Over  all  towers  up  the  wide  back 
of  the  Potala.  The  turn  of  the  Ling-kor  here  incloses  the  Lu- 
kang,  which  lies  at  the  foot  of  the  Marpo-ri.  This  is  beyond 
question  the  most  beautiful  thing  in  Lhasa,  and  the  Chinese, 
as  we  have  seen,  have  recognized  it  by  putting  it  first  among 
the  five  beauties  of  the  place.  It  is  a  still  lake  of  clear  brown 
water,  fringed  with  reeds  and  overhung  with  willows  and  other 
trees  of  great  age,  and  it  lies  low  in  green-wooded  glades,  where 
overhead  the  branches  meet.  Under  foot  the  turf  is  fine  and 
springy,  and  in  every  direction  the  wealth  of  undergrowth  hides 
from  one  the  fact  that  it  is  after  all  a  comparatively  small  gar- 
den. In  the  center  of  the  lake  is  an  island  entirely  covered  with 
trees  and  margined  all  round  with  huge  rushes.  An  old  flight 
of  stone  steps  betrays  in  the  foliage  a  scarcely  visible  pavilion 
with  a  blue-tiled  and  gilded  roof;  here  a  teal  rises  from  the  reeds 
as  one  approaches,  and  over  them  the  "  thin  blue  needle  of  the 
dragon-fly "  is  poised  in  myriads.  Scarlet,  green,  dun,  light- 
blue  and  dark-blue,  barred,  ribbed,  transparent,  or  mailed,  the 
dragon-flies  vibrate  motionless  over  every  piece  of  water  in 
this  water-logged  city,  but  the  Lu-kang  and  Lha-lu  are  their 


THE  SACRED  ELEPHANT   IN  THE  LUKANG  GARDENS  IN  LHASA 

The  one  elephant  in  Tibet 


LHASA,  I  341 

favorite  haunts.  The  Lu-kang,  or  serpent-house,  is  so  named 
because  of  the  common  belief  that  in  the  central  island  lives 
a  serpent  devil  who  needs  an  annual  propitiation  to  keep  flood 
waters  from  the  town;  the  tradition  re-appears  also  in  a  part 
of  the  Jo-kang  itself,  where  the  underground  waters  can  be 
reached  through  a  narrow  and  dark  channel,  and  at  the  Lha-lu 
house  a  quarter  of  a  mile  away  from  the  Lu-kang  across  the 
swamps.  In  each  of  these  places  there  is  approximately  the 
same  tradition  connected  with  the  supposed  underground  lake, 
which  is  ever  ready  to  engulf  the  sacred  city.^  Immediately 
to  the  left  as  one  enters  the  Lu-kang  is  the  courtyard,  in  which 
the  solitary  elephant  of  Tibet  is  kept.  He  had  a  companion 
on  the  journey  up  from  India  destined  for  the  Grand  Lama  of 
Tashi-lhunpo,  but  that  one  died— it  would  naturally  have  been 
that  one. 

The  Ling-kor  runs  on  through  barley-fields  to  the  east  until 
it  reaches  the  green  trees  overhanging  the  wall  of  the  Royal 
Pastures  at  Re-ting,  where  the  late  regent,  put  to  death  in  prison 
by  the  present  Grand  Lama  ten  years  ago,  had  his  residence. 
The  temporary  regent,  whom  we  found  in  occupation  in  Lhasa, 
did  not  take  up  his  residence  here,  as  he  had  been  appointed 
for  a  special  emergency  only.  Soon  after  this  Ramo-che  is 
passed  on  the  right  hand.  This  somewhat  uninteresting  temple 
is  reckoned  in  Tibetan  eyes  as  inferior  to  the  Jo-kang  alone, 
and  claims  a  clearly  impossible  antiquity;  it  is  a  medieval  build- 
ing of  an  undistinguished  type,  and  the  gilded  roof  is  the  pretti- 
est thing  about  it.  It  contains,  according  to  Chandra  Das,  only 
a  collection  of  military  relics,  shields,  spears,  drums,  and  swords, 

*It  is  not  unlikely  that  this  bogy  has  been  created,  or,  at  any  rate,  per- 
petuated, at  the  Lu-kang  to  scare  away  trespassers  from  the  favorite  picnick- 
ing ground  of  the  Dalai  Lama.  His  windows  look  out  from  the  back 
directly  down  upon  the  Lu-kang.  No  well  in  Lhasa  need  be  more  than  six 
feet  deep,  a  fact  which  undoubtedly  lies  at  the  root  of  the  subterranean  lake 
theory. 


342  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

and  the  image  of  King  Srong-tsan-gambo's  Nepalese  wife. 
Nothing  is  more  remarkable  in  Lhasa  than  the  interior  destitu- 
tion of  every  temple  except  the  Jo-kang  itself.  Nothing  has 
been  allowed  to  compete  in  even  the  most  timid  way  with  this 
august  repository  of  the  faith.  The  only  other  temple  which 
is  of  peculiar  interest  besides  the  Jo-kang  is  the  temple  of  the 
Chief  Magician  outside  the  walls,  of  which  a  full  description 
will  be  given  elsewhere. 

Still  going  onward,  the  Ling-kor,  now  a  pebbly  length  of 
banked-up  causeway,  curves  round  to  inclose  the  Meru  gompa 
on  the  extreme  north-east  of  the  town;  here  it  touches  the  deep 
irrigation  channels  which  drain  off  the  water  from  the  swamps 
in  this  direction,  flat,  treacherous,  and  wickedly  green.  This 
water-course  is  bridged  by  the  Min-duk  Sampa,  or  bridge  of 
the  Pleiades,  over  which  the  Chinese  trade  route  runs  into  the 
city.  The  Ling-kor  here  becomes  acquainted  with  strange  sur- 
roundings, and  it  becomes  but  a  dirty  and  befouled  track  run- 
ning between  houses  of  increasing  squalor  and  disrepute.  Thrust 
out  on  the  eastern  side  are  the  shambles  of  Lhasa,  for  life  may 
not  be  taken  within  the  sacred  precincts  of  the  city,  as  was  noted 
by  Friar  Oderic  more  than  five  hundred  years  ago.  But  this 
respect  does  not  prevent  the  via  sacra  of  the  faith  from  being 
used  as  a  refuse  heap  for  the  raw  scraps  of  bone  and  skin  and 
ugly  red  flesh  from  the  butchers'  shops  which  are  thrown  here 
to  be  mouthed  and  quarreled  over  by  mangy  dogs  and  the  out- 
lying scouts  of  the  pig  battalion. 

The  Ling-kor,  now  curving  round  the  eastern  side  of  the  city, 
skirts  the  quarter  where,  as  everywhere  else  in  the  world,  the 
poor  are  congregated,  and  there  are  on  all  sides  broken-down 
hovels  with  unrepaired  holes,  and  empty  window-holes  grimy 
with  the  continual  fog  of  smoke  inside.  On  our  left  hand  as 
we  go  round  beside  the  swampy  flats  of  Pala,  which  stretch  out 
westward  toward  the  distant  river,  the  treacherous  quagmire 


LHASA,  I  343 

comes  right  up  to  the  causeway  on  which  the  Ling-kor  is  now 
raised,  though  here  and  there  a  square  plot  of  ground  has  been 
reclaimed  from  the  morass  and  nourishes  good  barley,  or  a  small 
plantation  is  set  about  a  tiny  poor  house.  But  bad  as  this  quarter 
is,  it  is  respectability  itself  compared  with  the  Ragyaba  quarter, 
which  we  shall  reach  the  moment  we  turn  the  corner  to  the  right 
and  begin  to  retrace  our  steps  westward  to  Chagpo-ri  and  the 
Pargo  Kaling.  But  before  we  reach  the  corner  we  notice  the 
great  heap  of  stones,  another  relic  of  the  piety  of  pilgrims,  who 
here  lose  or  catch  their  first  sight  of  the  Potala  palace.*  As  we 
retraverse  the  Ragyaba  quarter  the  remembrance  of  a  previous 
day  is  outrun  by  the  reality  of  the  moment ;  the  foulness  of  these 
homes  is  equal  to  but,  I  think,  more  repulsive  than  that  of  Phari. 
It  is  true  it  is  confined  to  a  small  quarter  in  Lhasa,  but  there 
is  not  here  the  saving  grace  of  bitter  cold  to  excuse,  and  possibly 
mitigate,  the  dirt  and  stench,  and  as  one  rode  through  them 
one  could  hardly  imagine  that  one's  own  brothers  and  sisters 
of  the  human  race  were  actually  content  to  live  in  these  low 
piggeries  scattered  here  and  there  over  the  reeking  black  mud, 
which  had  long  been  churned  into  a  greasy  soup  by  the  picking 
feet  of  the  black  swine  that  swarm  throughout  the  quarter.    Yet, 

*  I  have  said  that  pilgrims  on  the  sacred  way  move  always  the  way  of  the 
sun.  But  if  the  explanation  of  the  heap  of  stones,  which  was  given  me  by  a 
lama,  is  true,  it  is  clear  that  a  certain  number  must  go  in  the  opposite  direc- 
tion, for  the  heap  of  stones  to  which  I  refer  is  placed  exactly  where  the  sight 
of  the  Potala  is  lost,  not  gained,  by  one  going  round  the  sacred  way  in  the 
usual  mannen.  On  this  whole  question  of  the  rotation  of  Lamaism  I  have 
throughout  given  the  conventionally  held  view  rather  than  a  personal  one.  It 
is  perfectly  true  that  chortens  and  such  things  are  passed  on  the  road,  as  a 
rule,  by  the  wayfarer  keeping  to  his  left.  It  is  true  that  prayer-wheels  are 
generally  swung  in  the  same  direction,  but  on  two  occasions  I  have  noticed  on 
the  sacred  way  itself  an  intelligent-looking  monk  briskly  wheeling  his  prayer 
instrument  in  the  opposite  direction,  and  the  ready  explanation  of  some  that 
this  was  a  monk  of  the  Beun-pa  will  not  hold  good,  for  the  men  were  cer- 
tainly following  the  usual  circuit.  The  question  of  the  swastika  I  have  al- 
ready alluded  to,  and  I  am  inclined  to  think  that  although  what  I  have  said 
is,  without  doubt,  the  general  rule  of  the  faith,  yet  less  importance  is  attached 
to  it  than  is  generally  supposed. 


344  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

strangely  enough,  here  are  the  flowers  of  Lhasa.  In  these  foul 
surroundings  tl^ey  bloom  better  than  elsewhere— clean,  upstand- 
ing hollyhocks,  radiant  of  gentility;  old-world  stocks,  with 
dainty  crimson  flowers  and  fine  gray-green  leaves;  nasturtiums 
trailing  their  torn  trumpets  of  fire,  opal  and  gold,  over  the 
carrion  filth  of  these  decaying  walls.  It  reminded  one  of  the 
jeweled  butterflies  wheeling  over  the  dirt  of  the  Riang  road. 

On  the  left  is  a  row  of  willows  hedging  about  a  water  meadow, 
across  which  are  two  of  the  "  lings,"  or  gardens,  which  surround 
Lhasa.*  Soon  after  this  the  wide  black  pools  which  mark  the 
clearing  in  front  of  the  Amban's  house  appear  to  the  right,  but 
the  Ling-kor  runs  on  below  the  willow-trees  on  the  left,  to  the 
green  plantations  which  have  now  taken  the  place  of  the  houses ; 
for  now  Lhasa  proper  has  been  left  behind  and  we  are  moving 
along  the  southern  side  of  the  woodland  waste  between  it  and 
the  Potala  palace.  The  town  has  given  place  to  the  woodland, 
and  the  woodland  will  soon  give  place  to  the  rock.  Seven  hun- 
dred yards  on  through  this  green  avenue  with  a  stream  beside 
us  moistening  the  roots  of  the  willows  brings  the  pilgrim  to  a 
sharp  upstanding  spur  of  stone. 

It  is  not  one  of  the  least  extraordinary  things  connected  with 
Lhasa  that  no  visitor,  traveler,  or  spy  seems  to  have  made  the 
complete  circuit  of  the  Ling-kor.  Not  only  are  the  maps  we 
possess  consistently  wrong  in  a  matter  about  which  no  mistake 
can  possibly  be  made  by  any  one  who  has  seen  the  place,  but  no 
account  or  description  has  hitherto  been  given  of  one  of  the 
rnost  remarkable  features  of  Lhasa.  The  steep  limestone  cliffs 
fall  sharply  down  beside  the  running  stream  which  here  is 
merged  into  the  wide  flood  of  the  Kyi  chu.  One  of  the  chan- 
nels of  this  river  actually  washes  the  base  of  this  limestone 

*  It  was  in  one  of  these  that  the  Commissioner  was  invited  to  take  up  his 
residence  on  his  arrival  in  the  city,  but  the  place  was  inconvenient  for  many 
reasons  and  the  Lha-lu  house  was  chosen  instead. 


LHASA,  I  345 

outcrop,  and  the  path  has  been  cut  out  of  the  rock  three  feet 
wide  in  the  manner  of  the  ordinary  mountain  trang.  It  slowly 
rises  to  a  height  of  nearly  a  hundred  feet,  almost  every  yard  of 
the  way  being  marked  by  images,  chortens,  or  deep-cut  mantras 
on  the  rock.  Flat  stones  in  innumerable  quantities,  bearing  the 
unvarying  formula,  are  carefully  set  up  on  end;  tens  of  thou- 
sands of  little  clay  medals,  bearing  some  religious  impress,  are 
strewn  on  every  ledge.  On  the  top  of  this  ascent  one  looks 
away  over  the  wide  waste  of  the  Kyi  chu  river,  and  there  are  Qmm-  -z.  'V^^*^ 
few  sights  in  the  world  more  beautiful  than  that  which  here 
meets  the  eye.  Far  and  wide  the  sunlit  river  stretches  its  shal-  • 
lows;  one  could  almost  believe  that  Lhasa  was  an  island  in 
a  lake,  and  the  picturesque  foliage  of  the  trees  and  flowers  that 
rise  at  the  foot  of  the  long  slaty  cliffs,  just  where  the  southern 
sunshine  washes  them  all  day  and  the  rock  gives  out  its  warmth 
to  them  all  night,  are  more  luxuriant  than  anywhere  else  beside 
the  sacred  way.  The  Ling-kor  descends  here  somewhat  abruptly, 
finding  a  foothold  at  the  base  of  the  rocks  by  which  you  may 
climb  from  here  to  Cha^po-ri — it  is  as  it  were  the  sprawled  near 
hind-leg  of  the  couching  lion  of  stone. 

Now  the  most  impressive  sight  of  all  the  Ling-kor  is  in  front 
of  us.  It  is  a  gigantic  rock,  flat  and  facing  the  stream  squarely ; 
the  whole  surface  is  a  close-set  gallery  of  Buddhas  of  all  sizes  and 
colors,  jostling  each  other's  knees  in  their  profusion ;  at  a  distance 
in  the  sunlight  it  looks  as  if  a  vast  carpet  of  vivid  color  has  been 
thrown  over  the  face  of  the  rock.  There  can  hardly  be  less  than 
twenty  thousand  of  these  figures,  the  majority  being  small  image;^ 
but  two  inches  high,  cut  in  symmetrical  rows  by  hundreds  upon 
a  convenient  surface  of  the  rock  itself,  or  propped  up  on  detached 
slabs  against  the  cliff  side.  Others,  from  nine  inches  to  two  feet 
in  height,  cover  the  entire  surface  of  the  great  rock  disposed  round 
the  big  Buddha  in  the  center.  He  is  twenty  feet  in  height,  and 
below  him  in  enormous  gaudy  letters  of  the  deepest  relief  is  the 


346  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

parent  mantra  of  all  the  '"''  om  mani  padme  hums  "  of  Tibet.  Each 
letter  is  cut  six  feet  in  height  out  of  the  living  rock,  and  the  total 
length  of  the  text  must  be  thirty  feet  at  least;  the  colors  of  the 
letters  follow  each  other  in  this  order — white,  green,  yellow,  slate, 
blue,  red,  and  dark  indigo.^ 

Twenty  yards  on  there  are  two  small  flat  housei  in  a  garden  of 
their  own,  where  the  road  turns  inward  a  little,  and  the  path 
passes  away  into  a  wide  and  well-kept  road,  fringed  on  either  side 
by  green  plantations  overhanging  adobe  walls.  A  hundred  yards 
later  a  common  is  reached,  which  the  Ling-kor  incloses  by  making 
a  sharp  right-angled  turn  at  the  opposite  side  of  it.  Strictly 
speaking,  the  pilgrim  should  throughout  his  circumambulation 
keep  to  the  actual  track,  but  the  slant  across  the  common  which 
cuts  the  corner  is  suspiciously  well  worn.  Another  point  at  which 
a  deviation  is  apparently  made  is  in  the  omission  of  that  part  of 
the  Ling-kor  which  goes  outside  the  Lu-kang.  Here  my  syce  met 
an  old  friend  whom  he  had  known  in  Gangtok  in  former  days, 
and  though  she  was  obviously  off  the  main  route,  she  still  assured 
Tsering  that  she  was  performing  the  ceremonial  circuit.  After 
all,  your  Tibetan  is  a  very  human  person. 

A  quarter  of  a  mile  further  on  the  road,  still  running  north, 
meets  our  starting-point  underneath  the  rock  on  which  the  Chi- 

^This  is  the  sacred  sequence,  and  I  was  glad  to  find  in  this  classical  ex- 
ample in  Lhasa  corroboration  of  the  frequent  notes  that  I  had  made  on  the 
way  up.  It  is  to  be  noted  that  the  coloring  of  the  last  symbol  but  one  care- 
fully distinguishes  between  the  D  and  the  M  of  which  it  is  composed,  the 
upper  symbol  D  belonging  strictly  to  the  previous  syllable  pa;  the  coloring  of 
the  vowel  sound  above  it  indicates  the  relationship  of  the  vowel  to  the  under- 
written M.  The  Lamaic  tradition  attaches  considerable  importance  to  the 
proper  distinction  of  the  vowels  of  this  great  formula. 

This  difference  in  color  between  the  D  and  the  vowel  mark  above  it  is  in 
this  case  almost  the  only  remaining  proof  that  there  ever  was  an  M  at  all, 
for  the  whole  of  the  rock  at  this  most  holy  point  has  been  worn  into  the  most 
gigantic  "cup-mark"  in  the  world.  There  is  a  smooth,  worn  hole  three  or 
four  feet  in  depth  and  height  and  five  feet  in  length,  from  or  into  which  the 
pious  either  throw,  or  take,  a  pebble,  for  the  dust  of  it  is  accounted  miracu- 
lous in  its  efficacy  for  diseases  of  both  soul  and  body. 


LHASA,  I  347 

nese  temple  stands.  At  this  point,  it  will  be  remembered  that  the 
buildings  and  gardens  of  the  Kun-de-ling  press  upon  the  road 
itself.  These  "  lings  "—the  word  literally  means  a  garden— are 
four  in  number ;  they  represent  four  lamaic  colleges  from  among 
whose  members  the  regent  of  the  Dalai  Lama  was  in  old  days  in- 
variably chosen.  From  this  rule  an  apparent  exception  was  made 
in  the  middle  of  last  century,  and  if  the  sudden  demise  of  the 
Dalai  Lama  should  make  it  necessary  for  the  hierarchy  to  elect  a 
new  regent,  it  is  more  than  probable  that  they  would  select  some 
one  from  De-bung  or  another  of  the  great  monasteries  outside  the 
walls  in  whose  hands  the  political  power  is  now  wholly  vested. 
The  tradition,  however,  has  in  the  past  been  a  useful  check  upon 
intrigue.  Of  the  other  lings,  Tengye-ling  is  a  large  but  uninter- 
esting building  which  one  passes  on  the  right,  if,  instead  of 
branching  down  to  the  Yutok  road  from  the  Potala  palace,  one 
keeps  straight  along  by  the  road  which,  as  I  have  noticed  on  the 
occasion  of  our  first  entrance  into  Lhasa,  is  as  a  rule  one  continu- 
ous puddle.  Here  the  Tongsa  Penlop  took  up  his  abode,  with 
unerring  judgment,  for  Tengye-ling  is  quite  the  most  comfortable 
of  the  four.  If,  however,  his  followers  adopted  the  same  methods 
in  Lhasa  as  had  marked  their  progress  to  the  city,  it  is  more  than 
likely  that  the  sacred  treasures  of  Tengye-ling  have  been  seriously 
reduced  in  number  by  this  lime.  Chomo-ling  is  an  insignificant 
structure,  almost  concealed  in  trees,  not  far  from  Ramo  che,  and 
the  fourth  and  last  is  Tsecho-ling,  which  is  outside  the  city  alto- 
gether, across  the  river  to  the  south. 

With  this  brief  survey  of  the  course  taken  by  the  I<ing-kor  this 
chapter  must  end,  though  we  shall  have  to  return  across  its  sacred 
ribbon  when  the  gem  of  all  that  lies  within  it  is  to  be  described, 
and  the  reader  will  be  asked  to  penetrate  with  me  into  that  holiest 
of  all  holies,  the  Jo-kang,  or  the  very  "  place  of  God  "  itself. 


CHAPTER  XVIII 

THE  ENVIRONS  OF  LHASA 

IMMEDIATELY  after  his  arrival  in  Lhasa,  Colonel  Young- 
husband  had  asked  that  a  proper  residence  should  be  provided 
for  him.  To  this  request  there  was,  of  course,  the  usual  Tibetan 
demur,  more  the  result  of  habit  than  intention,  whereupon  the 
Colonel  announced  his  willingness,  and,  if  some  action  were  not 
at  once  taken  by  the  Lhasan  officials,  his  intention  to  occupy 
Norbu-ling,  the  summer  residence  of  the  Grand  Lama  just  out- 
side the  Ling-kor  and  within  a  few  hundred  yards  of  the  point  on 
which  our  camp  had  been  pitched.  This  veiled  threat  brought 
the  Tibetans  to  some  sense  of  the  respect  that  must  be  paid  to  the 
English  representative,  and  they  even  went  so  far  as  to  say  that 
any  one  of  the  houses  of  the  Sha-pes  was  at  his  disposal  if  only 
he  would  leave  Norbu-ling  alone.  In  the  end  Lha-lu  house,  the 
finest  private  residence  in  Tibet,  was  placed  at  the  Commission- 
er's disposal,  and  the  Mission  moved  into  it  on  August  12th.  The 
reason  of  this  perturbation  on  the  part  of  the  Tibetans  was  simply 
that  Norbu-ling  is  the  summer  residence  of  the  Dalai  Lama. 
It  has  a  perfectly  square  garden  or  plantation,  surrounded  by  a 
well-built  wall,  each  side  being  a  quarter  of  a  mile  in  length,  and 
to  secure  greater  seclusion — though  it  is  difficult  to  imagine  what 
trespassing  can  be  possible  over  this  stout  barrier — a  second  wall 
has  been  built  inside  the  outer  barrier  for  nearly  its  whole  extent. 
Inside  this  again  is  a  house  and  a  temple  of  no  pretensions  what- 
ever, save  that,  from  the  distance,  a  small  gilded  roof  and  half-a- 
dozen  golden  "  gyan-tsens  "  distinguish  it  somewhat.    The  only 

348 


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THE  ENVIRONS   OF  LHASA  .  349 

acquaintance  we  ever  had  with  the  interior  of  Norbu-ling  was 
that  obtained  by  looking  down  upon  the  whole  plain  of  Lhasa 
from  the  high  crest  of  the  hill  across  the  river.  No  member  of 
the  force  penetrated  into  the  inclosed  garden,  and  therefore  the 
vague  stories  we  were  told  about  it  by  the  natives  are  all  that  there 
is  to  report.  They  really  seemed  to  know  as  little  of  the  interior 
as  ourselves.  It  was  built  in  its  present  form  only  eight  years 
ago,  and  as  a  residence  for  the  Dalai  Lama  does  not  claim  a 
greater  antiquity  than  1870.  The  trees  bear  out  this  statement, 
for  they  are  nearly  all  of  small  dimensions.  The  Dalai  Lama 
lives  here  for  two  months  in  the  summer,  observing  the  same 
state  as  before,  and  hedged  about  with  an  even  greater  seclusion 
than  that  which  marks  him  at  his  palace  on  the  rock  a  mile  away. 
There  was  a  rumor  during  our  stay  in  Lhasa  that  the  Dalai  Lama 
was  actually  in  hiding  in  Norbu-ling,  and  it  is  beyond  question 
that  a  large  number  of  European  rifles  were  stored  in  this  pleasure 
house.  The  Dalai  Lama,  however,  when  once  he  had  turned  his 
back  upon  the  people  committed  to  his  charge,  never  looked  back, 
and  if  the  latest  reports,  at  the  time  of  writing,  be  true,  the  soon- 
to-be-deposed  pontiff  must  have  made  his  way  hot-foot  to  Urga, 
in  Mongolia,  where  he  remains  the  unwelcome  guest  of  his  spir- 
itual brother,  the  Taranath  Lama. 

The  outer  walls  of  Norbu-ling  are,  as  I  have  said,  of  splendid 
workmanship,  and  they  offer  a  good  example  of  the  peculiar 
stone-laying  of  Lhasa.  Divided  by  lines,  three  "stretchers" 
deep,  of  stone  almost  as  thin  as  a  tile,  the  greater  blocks  are 
ranged  in  courses  separated  from  each  other  by  splinters  of  gran- 
ite set  horizontally  and  symmetrically  between  the  bigger  lumps. 
This  is  the  universal  method  of  laying  the  masonry  of  Lhasa;  it 
will  be  found  throughout  the  province  of  U  and  in  rare  cases  in 
Tsang  also,  but  we  found  it  is  specially  characteristic  of  Lhasa, 
though  I  do  not  know  how  far  the  custom  has  extended  to  the 
East.    The  upper  part  of  this  wall  is  f  riezed  above  a  string  course 


350  .     THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

with  maroon  red  and  at  the  south-east  corner  there  is  a  curious 
and  unexpected  symbol  of  a  religion  with  which  Lamaism  should 
have  nothing  in  common.  Half-way  along  the  southern  side, 
where  there  is  but  fifteen  yards  between  the  water  of  the  Kyi  chu 
and  the  wall,  is  a  latticed  projection  containing  about  430  small, 
well-designed  images  of  the  Master,  and  one  strangely  inconse- 
quent white  china  figure  of  a  lady  on  a  beast,  which  might  have 
come  from  Germany.  Here  there  was  good  fishing,  and  beside 
this  little  shrine  the  "  Nightmare  "  ^  put  off  his  panoply  of  war 
and  deftly  drew  the  mud-barbel  from  the  waters  of  the  Kyi  chu. 

As  we  have  said,  this  haunt  was  left  inviolate,  and  the  Mission 
established  itself  at  the  Lha-lu  house.  This  is  a  large  and  sub- 
stantial building,  seven  or  eight  hundred  yards  away  from  the 
Lu-kang  ford  of  the  Kaling  chu,  twelve  hundred  yards  north-west 
from  Potala.  There  is  a  road  across  the  marsh  to  it  so  that  one 
may  arrive  there  dry-shod,  but,  like  most  other  places  on  the  Plain 
of  Milk,  the  luxuriance  of  its  gardens  and  plantations  is  greatly 
due  to  the  fact  that  the  soil  is  saturated  with  water.  This,  it  will 
be  remembered,  is  one  of  the  five  beautiful  things,  and  well  it  de- 
serves the  name.  Always  excepting  the  Lu-kang,  there  is  nothing 
in  Lhasa,  not  even  the  vegetation  near  the  Sacred  Rock,  that 
equals  the  luxuriance  of  this  spot. 

The  house  itself  is  built  round  a  large,  open  quadrangle  with 
galleries  on  three  sides  of  it  in  the  usual  way;  the  northern  side 
of  this  quadrangle  is  the  southern  wall  of  the  main  house,  and 
here  Colonel  Younghusband  took  up  his  quarters.  Some  descrip- 
tion of  a  typical  Tibetan  house  should  be  given  in  these  pages,  and 
a  better  example  than  Lha-lu  cannot,  as  I  have  said,  be  found. 


^This  we  fpund  to  our  amusement  was  Captain  Ottley's  recognized  name 
among  the  Tibetans.  There  is  a  good  deal  to  be  said  for  the  appHcability 
and  picturesqueness  of  the  title,  and  its  universal  adoption  by  the  Tibetans 
betrays  the  terror  with  which  the  ubiquitous  mounted  infantry  inspired  the 
people  along  the  road.  The  work  done  by  Captain  Peterson  and  Lieutenant 
Bailey  in  the  same  corps  was  invaluable. 


a 


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a 

a 


THE  ENVIRONS   OF  LHASA  351 

Over  a  small  stream  in  front  of  the  house  one  passes  by  a  bridge 
obliquely  into  the  courtyard.  The  outer  walls  of  the  house  are 
of  no  importance,  and  the  quadrangle  itself,  though  paved,  is 
muddy  and  generally  heaped  with  odds  and  ends;  all  round  the 
base  under  the  first  balcony  the  horses  and  mules  of  the  owners 
are  as  a  rule  ranged,  but  on  our  arrival  in  the  place  our  beasts 
were  banished  to  more  convenient  quarters  outside.  Hence,  im- 
mediately in  front  of  one  rose  the  considerable  mass  of  the  main 
residence ;  on  the  left,  a  door  led  into  an  inclosed  garden  and  to- 
ward the  summer-house  and  temple,  beautifully  set  about  with 
foliage.  On  the  right  a  similar  doorway  led  to  the  menials'  build- 
ings and  lesser  stablings.  Crossing  the  courtyard,  one  enters  the 
house  by  a  small  and  insignificant  door  in  the  center  of  its  south- 
ern side.  The  mud,  through  and  over  which  one  has  gingerly  ta 
pick  one's  way,  stepping  from  stone  to  stone,  enters  the  house  as 
freely  as  ourselves,  and  in  the  sudden  dark  one  can  only  just  dis- 
tinguish the  corner  down  which  a  precipitous  ladder  slants.  It  is 
impossible  here  to  choose  one's  steps,  so  one  plunges  through  the 
mud  and  stones  to  reach  the  base  of  the  ladder,  which,  it  must  be 
remembered,  is  the  only  way  in  which  a  visitor  or  resident,  high 
or  low,  can  reach  the  house  itself.  Up  the  slippery  iron-sheathed 
treads  one  goes,  clinging  desperately  to  the  polished  willow  hand- 
rail, and  at  the  top  one  is  confronted  across  the  passage  by  the 
durbar  room  of  the  house. 

This  is  also  the  chapel,  and  three  seated  figures  of  gilt  bronze,, 
properly  draped  with  katags,  are  ranged  in  recesses  along  the  op- 
posite wall.  On  either  side  of  them  the  wall  is  pigeon-holed  for 
books.  No  photograph  can  even  suggest  the  decoration  of  this 
room.  Color  covers  every  single  square  inch  of  wall  space  or 
pillar  from  end  to  end.  Scarlet  and  emerald  green,  gold  and 
Reckitt's  blue  predominate  to  the  exclusion  of  half-tones,  harmo- 
nizing, however,  more  than  would  be  thought  possible.  Above 
this  room,  which  is  lighted  by  a  vertical  opening  in  the  roof,  is- 


352  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

the  floor  on  which  the  family  lives,  and  it  is  curious  to  emerge 
from  the  mud  and  untidiness  of  the  ground  level  to  the  dainty 
finish  of  this  beautiful  series  of  rooms.  There  were  seventeen 
living  rooms,  and  of  these  ten  were  decorated  in  the  same  lavish 
manner  as  below.  Ornament  was  not  confined  to  the  walls ;  lat- 
ticed Screens  of  paper,  silk,  and  even  glass  separated  one  part  of 
a  room  from  the  other,  and  all  and  everything  were  figured  with 
richly  tinted  specimens  of  local  or  Chinese  draftsmanship. 
Colonel  Younghusband  took  up  his  abode  in  the  central  room 
overlooking  the  courtyard.  From  immediately  above  his  window 
ran  many  ropes  on  which  huge  sun-blinds  should  have  rested. 
But  these,  with  all  the  other  furniture  of  the  house,  had  been  taken 
away  by  the  young  representative  of  the  Lha-lu  family  before 
wife  came  to  occupy  the  family  mansion.  This  clearance  was  done 
at  our  request,  as  we  had,  or  could  obtain,  sufficient  furniture  for 
our  own  needs,  and  we  did  not  wish  to  run  the  risk  of  damaging 
our  host's  property. 

Alinost  the  only  thing  left  in  the  house  was  a  cheap  pendulum 
clock  made  by  the  Ansonia  clock  company.  These  very  rare  re- 
currences of  Western  civilization  never  influenced  the  intensely 
Oriental  seclusion  of  Lhasa.  One  noticed  them  from  time  to  time 
with  a  shock— a  shock  of  regret,  it  must  be  said — for  if  Lhasa  be 
not  free  from  the  cheapness  of  machine-made  manufactures,  what 
place  on  earth  can  be  ?  One  remarkable  exception  to  this  rule  of 
exclusion  must  be  mentioned.  Umbrellas  with  the  touching  guar- 
antee "  waterproof  "  pasted  inside  the  peak  are  fairly  common  at 
Lhasa,  whither  they  must  have  come  from  India,  where  their  use 
is  widely  spread.  But  except  for  these  occasional  adoptions,  the 
race  of  men  who  dwell  in  Lhasa  remains  in  thought  and  word 
and  deed  unchanged  and,  perhaps,  unchangeable  from  that  which 
listened  to  Tsong-kapa's  passionate  appeal  for  reform,  or,  before 
his  day,  to  the  deep  learning  of  Atisha,  or,  earlier  still,  to  the 
blasphemies  of  the  apostate  Lang-darma  in  the  dawn  of  Tibetan 
history.    Lhasa  never  changes. 


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THE  ENVIRONS  OF  LHASA  353 

The  gardens  of  Lha-lu  are,  as  I  have  said,  almost  a  swamp. 
On  the  only  really  dry  portion  of  them  two  buildings  have  been 
erected,  one  half  summer-house,  half  temple,  the  other  a  glazed 
greenhouse ;  these  are  not  of  any  great  interest,  though  the  former 
is  of  considerable  age,  and  underneath  the  dirt  collected  on  the 
frescoes  the  exquisite  finish  of  the  painting  can  still  be  distin- 
guished. To  make  a  circuit  of  these  beautiful  grounds  one  leaves 
the  summer-house  and  strikes  across  to  the  west,  picking  one's 
way  along  the  higher  and  drier  "  bunds  "  beneath  the  willow  trees 
and  among  swarms  of  dragon-flies,  as  fearless  and  as  thick  as 
midges  in  England.  Mr.  White  and  I  went  for  a  photographic 
excursion  one  morning,  and  he  made  some  excellent  plates.  Few, 
I  think,  will  prove  as  beautiful  as  those  of  the  water-meadows  of 
Lha-lu.  You  can  roam  about  among  them  at  the  back  of  the 
house  for  half  a  mile,  and  then  you  will  strike  a  little  wooded 
track,  for  all  the  world  like  a  hazel-canopied  lane  in  Devonshire. 
Kitchen  gardens  adjoin  Lha-lu  house  to  the  east,  and  the  little 
hovels  in  which  the  gardeners  live  are  pressed  up  against  the  walls 
of  the  lane  which  divides  the  house  from  these  grounds,  but  in 
every  other  direction  there  is  a  water-sodden  stretch  of  plain  or 
plantation  across  which  artificial  roads  alone  give  one  a  dry-shod 
passage. 

Sera  Monastery  lies  due  north  of  the  town  and  De-bung,  not 
three  miles  distant,  lies  west-north-west.  There  was  an  interest- 
ing morning  spent  outside  the  latter  place.  The  monks  who  had 
undertaken  to  supply  us  with  tsamba  failed  utterly  to  keep  their 
promise  within  the  given  time,  and  it  became  necessary  to  enforce 
our  demands.  The  little  column  therefore  moved  out  of  camp  one 
day  with  the  guns  and  made  ready  to  occupy  the  wide-stretching 
waste  of  white  monastery.  After  waiting  for  two  or  three  hours, 
however,  the  monks  thought  it  wiser  to  comply,  and,  in  the  Gen- 
eral's opinion,  enough  was  given  on  the  spot  as  earnest  of  a  future 
delivery  to  justify  him  in  abandoning  his  intentions.  On  this  oc- 
casion I  made  first  acquaintance  with  a  temple  to  which  I  had  pre- 


354  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

viously  referred  as,  of  all  the  buildings  of  Lhasa,  second  only  in 
interest  to  the  Jo-kang.  This  is  the  exquisite  temple  and  house 
belonging  to  the  Chief  Magician  of  the  country.  Half  a  mile 
short  of  De-bung,  it  lies  almost  concealed  in  the  lower  trees  of  a 
deep  ravine  running  up  into  the  hills,  the  only  part  of  it  which  is 
visible  from  a  distance  being  the  golden  roof. 

Returning  on  the  following  day,  Mr.  Claude  White  and  I  made 
a  careful  tour  of  inspection  through  all  the  buildings  of  the  place, 
being  received  by  the  monks  with  the  utmost  hospitality.  In 
many  ways  this  temple  stands  on  a  plane  of  its  own,  and  is  not 
entirely  typical  of  other  similar  structures  in  the  country,  but  it 
was  more  interesting  therefore  to  make  such  close  acquaintance 
with  an  institution  unique  in  the  world.  Going  among  the  white- 
washed houses  at  the  foot  of  the  monastery,  I  took  a  photograph 
which  shows  the  essential  difference  which  distinguishes  this  little 
community  from  that  of  almost  every  other  district  in  Tibet.  It 
might  almost  be  part  of  an  Italian  town  in  those  very  Marches 
of  Ancona  from  which  the  Capuchin  community  of  Lhasa  was 
drawn.  In  the  early  days  of  the  eighteenth  century,  some  fleeting 
memory  of  far-distant  Macerata  may  well  have  home-sickened 
for  a  moment  Costantino  or  Beligatti  as  the  pair  turned  in  from 
the  wide,  flat  Plain  of  Milk  toward  the  wooded  little  temple  of 
the  chief  wizard. 

The  temple  itself  may  be  reached  either  from  the  left,  or  more 
directly  up  the  sharp  flight  of  steps  which  faces  the  reader  in  the 
picture  here.  To  the  main  entrance,  that  to  the  left,  the  visitor 
makes  his  way  circuitously,  passing  beside  a  luxuriant  little  plan- 
tation of  deep  grass,  where  rambling  shrubs  and  trees  grow  so 
thickly  that  they  almost  make  a  twilight  round  their  stems.  As  I 
was  passing  this  on  one  occasion  there  was  a  sound  from  the  hid- 
den depths  of  the  wood  which  was  like  nothing  in  the  world  so 
much  as  the  subterranean  roar  which  heralds  Fafnir's  unwieldy 
entrance.    I  suppose  that  really  some  of  the  younger  monks  were 


THE  ENVIRONS  OF  LHASA  355 

being  taught  to  blow  a  sixteen-foot  trumpet,  but  the  sound  was 
one  which  added  the  last  note  of  mystery  to  the  scene.  Fifty 
yards  further,  we  arrive  opposite  the  main  entrance  on  the  right. 
I  am  not  sure  that  this  temple  is  not,  the  Cathedral  always 
apart,  the  most  interesting  thing  in  Tibet.  It  is  small,  entirely 
complete  in  itself,  finished  ad  unguem,  daintily  clean,  and  had  evi- 
dently received  more  money  and  attention  than  any  other  gompa 
on  our  road.  The  well-wooded  ascending  track  of  the  valley  be- 
side which  it  is  built  continues  upward  after  it  has  debouched 
into  the  courtyard,  which  here,  as  everywhere,  divides  the  main 
gateways  of  the  temple  from  the  usual  row  of  cloistered  frescoes 
opposite.  The  scene  herens  of  unusual  beauty  and  interest;  it  is 
very  seldom  in  Tibet  that  the  contrast  of  luxuriant  foliage  and 
vivid  temple  color  is  obtained.  There  is  a  peculiar  color  har- 
mony which  distinguishes  the  Na-chung  Chos-kyong.  Green 
there  is  in  the  background,  green  of  more  shades  than  a  camera 
can  detect,  and  the  deep,  claret  brown  of  the  temple  buildings  is 
handsomely  accentuated  above  by  golden  roofs,  and  harmonizes 
well  below  with  the  plain  gray  ocher  of  the  courtyard  stones,  and 
the  interminable  strings  of  gauzy  fluttering  prayer-flags  of  every 
tint  between  the  two.  To  his  left  are  the  vivid  colors  of  an  ap- 
palling fresco  of  flayed  human  bodies,  skulls  full  of  blood,  and  in 
general  those  gory  heaps  of  human  vitals  which  seem  peculiarly 
attractive  to  the  pious  Tibetan  mind.  On  his  right  the  flight  of 
steps  will  take  him  into  the  temple  itself.  He  enters  at  the  side 
of  the  great  cloistered  courtyard  and  passes  through  a  double- 
pillared  corridor  ornamented  with  armor  and  weapons  of  strange 
make,  out  and  again  into  the  sunlight  of  the  quadrangle.  In  the 
middle  of  the  court,  in  front  of  him  now,  as  he  turns  to  the  left, 
are  the  main  entrances  of  the  temple  behind  the  many-pillared  ar- 
cade ;  they  are  screened  by  heavy  yak-hair  curtains  through  which 
one  can  catch  a  glimpse  of  a  gaudy  wealth  of  color  on  wall  and 
pillar  and  ceiling,  and  of  the  five  or  six  great  doors,  scarlet  and 


356  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

cardinal  and  flesh  color.  In  the  middle  of  the  courtyard,  imme- 
diately in  front  of  him,  is  a  little  tree  growing  in  a  perforated 
square-stone  lattice,  within  which,  all  around  its  stem,  is  a  proud 
bank  of  English  hollyhocks  and  a  few  vivid  nasturtiums  tumbling 
carelessly  through  the  lower  interstices  of  the  trellis.  Beside  it  is 
a  pillar  about  eight  feet  high,  with  a  tiny  roof  of  gold  atop. 
Just  over  the  edge  of  the  temple  entrance  appears,  high  up  against 
the  blue,  the  great  golden  roof,  and  standing  guard  by  it  many 
gyan-tsen,  gilded  and  fluttering  with  overlapping  flounces  of 
silk,  salmon  and  olive  and  rose-madder. 

The  presiding  deity  of  this  temple  has  long  fled  away  with  his 
master,  the  Dalai  Lama,  but  the  services  go  on  and  the  temple 
is  lovingly  cared  for  in  his  absence.  So  far  as  one  may  make 
a  guess  at  the  character  of  a  man  from  his  house,  it  is  easy  to  see 
that  the  Chief  Magician  of  Lhasa  is  of  an  unusually  refined  and 
dainty  taste ;  the  care  which  is  visible  in  every  corner  of  this  tem- 
ple we  had  not  found  even  suggested  in  any  other  building  in  the 
country.  It  looked  as  though  a  housemaid  had  been  round  with 
a  duster  an  hour  before  our  arrival.  The  abbot  of  the  monastery 
received  us  very  courteously  and  was  interested  and  amused  by 
Mr.  White's  large  camera.^  While  he  was  taking  a  series  of 
views  in  the  pillared  arcade  outside  the  doors  of  the  shrine,  I  sat 
down  and  hastily  recorded  a  suggestion  of  the  coloring  of  this 
arcade.  I  can  claim  with  pride  that  the  attractions  of  Mr.  White 
paled  in  a  second  beside  the  interest  which  a  four  or  five  deep  ring 
of  monks  took,  not  so  much  in  my  painting  as  in  my  paint-box. 
Some  one — he  presumably  was  the  artist  of  the  community— was 
hurriedly  sent  for,  and  when  he  came,  must  have  severely  taxed 

^It  was  an  unfailing  source  of  mystification  to  the  Tibetans  to  be  allowed 
to  look  at  the  reversed  picture  in  the  ground  glass  under  the  black  velvet. 
The  curious  thing  is  that,  so  far  as  we  could  find  out  from  their  exclamations, 
they  did  not  often  recognize  the  reversed  picture  as  that  of  the  scene  in  front 
of  the  lens.  It  was  for  them  merely  a  beautiful  pattern  of  varying  colors 
seen  in  a  singularly  effective  mariner. 


A  STREET  SCENE   IN   THE  WIZARD  COMMUNITY  OF  THE  NA-CHUNG 

CHOS-KYONG  AT  LHASA 
The  roofs  of  the  houses  are  made  of  golden  plates 


THE  ENVIRONS  OF  LHASA  357 

his  own  ingenuity  in  his  gesticulating  and  fluent  account  of  such 
mysteries  as  a  block  of  Whatman's  "  hot  pressed  "  and  a  type- 
writer eraser.  No  one  in  Tibet  ever  draws  anything  in  front  of 
him,  so  it  was,  perhaps,  a  lenient  crowd  of  critics  that  watched  my 
rapid  daubs  of  color  as  I  sketched  the  temple.  The  colors  were 
blinding  in  their  vividness  and  juxtaposition,  and  the  whole  of 
this  arcaded  temple-front  was  painted  from  end  to  end  in  the 
same  gorgeous  manner.  Not  a  corner  of  the  roof  has  escaped  the 
brush  of  the  painter  or  the  hand  of  the  gilder ;  the  pillars,  reported 
more  nobly  tinted  still,  were  wound  round  and  round  from  top  to 
bottom  with  crimson  cloth,  so  carefully  sewn  that  we  had  not  the 
face  to  ask  the  monks  to  uncover  one;  nothing,  however,  could 
have  added  much  to  the  incredible  play  of  gaudy  hues. 

Soon  afterward  the  great  doors,  each  bearing  a  monstrous  rep- 
resentation of  a  flayed  human  skin,  were  opened  for  us  and  we 
went  inside  into  the  temple  itself.  This,  too,  was  clean  and  as 
bright  in  color  as  the  portico,  though  the  mellowed  light  which 
filtered  through  awnings  and  screens  from  above  took  off  some- 
what from  the  painful  edge  of  contrast  and  crudity. 

The  ornamentation  throughout  this  temple  was  of  its  own 
kind.  It  differed  in  many  ways  from  that  which  is  usually  in 
vogue  in  Tibet ;  every  doorway  has  a  beading  of  human  skulls  or 
decapitated  heads  cut  roughly  out  of  wood  and  painted  minutely ; 
long  hangings  of  black  satin,  from  the  lower  edge  of  which  the 
same  heads,  with  long  black  tresses  of  silk,  hang  helplessly,  frieze 
the  walls,  and  a  curious  and  ghastly  pot-pourri  of  skulls,  entrails, 
eyeballs,  brains,  torn-out  tongues,  and  human  beings  suffering 
every  conceivable  mutilation  and  torture  which  man  has  ever  de- 
vised, adorn  the  walls  below.  Underneath  this  again  was  a  dado 
of  souls  burning  in  hell-fire.  But  it  says  much  for  the  ability  of 
man  to  adapt  himself  to  his  surroundings  that,  after  a  moment, 
even  these  sights  were  not  entirely  disagreeable,  and  one  could 
soon  see  beneath  these  horrible  representations  the  same  spirit  of 


358  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

devotion  which  moved  the  pen  of  a  Dante  or  the  brush  of  a  four- 
teenth-century Benedictine. 

At  the  far  end  of  the  temple,  opposite  the  doors,  is  the  sanctu- 
ary, a  wide  and  deep  inner  chapel.  Here  a  striking  departure 
from  the  customary  arrangement  is  to  be  seen;  in  the  central 
and  advanced  position,  elsewhere  invariably  occupied  by  the 
largest  image  of  Buddha  that  the  foundation  possesses,  was  the 
empty  seat  of  the  Magician  himself;  on  it  were  heaped  his  cere- 
monial robes,  his  sword  of  office,  and  a  small,  circular  shield 
of  exquisite  workmanship,  ornamented  with  a  golden  "  Hum  " 
in  the  center.  Into  the  top  of  the  shield  was  inlet  an  irregular 
lump  which  may  have  been  merely  colored  glass,  but  which 
looked  extraordinarily  like  one  of  those  guava- jelly-like  lumps 
of  polished  but  uncut  spinel  ruby  which  are  not  infrequently 
found  among  the  treasures  of  Indian  rajahs.  Behind  this  silver- 
gilt  throne  was  an  embossed  silver  proscenium,  framing  in  the 
dispossessed  Buddha.  To  the  right  of  it  hung  the  state  crown 
of  the  Magician,  which  is  a  beautiful  piece  of  work,  charmingly 
finished  ivory  skulls  alternating  with  florets  of  silver  heavily 
powdered  with  imitation  diamonds;  round  the  circlet  itself  were 
several  large  imitation  sapphires,  relieved  here  and  there  by 
some  really  good  turquoise  lumps.*  All  round  this  chapel  were 
cupboards  and  recesses  of  which  the  orifice  was  in  every  case 
entirely  concealed  by  knotted  katags.  Pushing  them  aside, 
one  could  discover  dimly  in  the  darkness  beautifully  finished 
brass  images,  half  life-size,  either  of  some  repulsive  god-mon- 
ster, or  of  some  one  of  those  groups  which,  go  where  you  will 
in  Tibet,  are  accepted  as  necessary  and  inevitable  symbols  of  a 
worship  which,  in  its  essence,  is  purity  itself.  In  one  place  or 
another  were  lying  about  here  the  Oracle's  gorget,  mask,  bow, 

^It  was  a  little  difficult  to  examine  this  crown,  from  the  darkness  of  the 
chapel;  but  this  is,  so  far  as  I  can  remember  it,  a  fair  description  of  the 
jewel. 


THE  ENVIRONS  OF  LHASA  359 

and  divining-glass,  and  though  he  had  been  gone  for  four  weeks 
or  more,  he  might  have  stepped  back  that  evening  and  found 
his  shrine  ready  and  to  the  last  detail  arranged  for  service. 
Mr.  Claude  White  was  lucky  enough  to  persuade  the  monks  to 
sell  to  him  the  little  circular  shield  I  have  described.  They  said 
they  could  easily  replace  it,  and  I  am  inclined  to  think  that  they 
made  more  than  a  trifle  out  of  the  transaction. 

We  descended  the  two  or  three  steps  of  this  dais,  down  on  to 
the  chunam  floor  of  the  outer  temple.*  On  either  side  of  the 
main  aisle  were  twelve  huge  drums,  and  thick  heavy  cushions  lay 
out  in  an  avenue  toward  the  great  doors.  On  the  right,  as  one 
came  down  the  sanctuary  steps,  was  a  very  large  silver  chorten 
against  the  far  wall,  studded  in  profusion  with  lumps  of  raw 
amber,  as  big  as,  and  not  much  unlike,  golden  pippins.  We 
came  out  again  into  the  sunshine  of  the  court  and  the  shade  of 
the  portico.  Our  kindly  hosts  had  provided  us  with  tea  and 
boiled  eggs  and  we  sat  down  on  piled-up  cushions  for  luncheon. 
It  did  not  take  us  long  to  realize  that  it  was  as  well  that  we 
had  brought  some  sandwiches  with  us,  for  we  made  the  distress- 
ing discovery,  egg  after  egg,  that  Tibetan  tastes  in  this  matter 
are  a  mean,  but  not  a  happy  one,  between  those  of  Europe  and 
of  China.  An  egg  absolutely  black  with  age  is  not  unpleasant 
to  the  taste,  but  these  eggs  which  were  only  just  beginning  to 
qualify  for  a  Chinese  menu  were  something  terrible,  and  we 
felt  confused  at  having  to  seem  unappreciative  of  the  kindness 
of  our  friendly  wizards. 

A  crow  had  built  its  nest  over  the  big  blue  board  which  sur- 
mounts the  main  door  and  craked  apprehensively  from  time  to 
time.  The  orange  and  blue  swallows  dipped  and  wheeled  in 
the  sun  outside,  and  the  just-seen  tree  tops  beyond  the  cloister 

*This  chunam  floor  is  a  fine  banket  of  minute  pebbles  and  cement  which 
receives  a  high  polish,  and  though  it  is  nowhere  here  brought  to  such  per- 
fection as  at  Agra  or  Delhi,  it  makes  a  very  permanent  and  even  handsome 
flooring  and  is  much  used  in  Tibet. 


360  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

^tooi  helped  to  make  snugger  still  the  brilliant  little  home  of 
meditation  and  of  magic.  Immediately  beyond  the  trees  the 
dull,  unclad  rock  half  inclosed  this  jewel  of  a  temple,  and  the 
faint  rustle  of  the  little  stream  was  hushed.  We  finished  our 
meal  and  went  down  again  into  the  courtyard  between  the  two 
painted  lions  which  guard  the  five  steps.  That  on  the  dexter 
is  blue,  his  sinister  companion  is  green.  Nothing  seems  to 
have  escaped  the  brush  gf  the  painter  here.  A  tour  of  in- 
spection round  the  galleries  of  the  cloisters  revealed  a  little  plate 
armor — which  is  a  somewhat  remarkable  thing — and  a  large 
number  of  shao  horns  heavily  whitewashed,  in  some  cases  tro- 
phied  with  dorje-handled  swords.  Then  we  were  invited  to 
look  at  the  other  rooms  of  the  gompa,  and  we  went  up  the  usual 
slippery  ladders  to  an  upper  portico  as  beautifully  painted  as 
every  other  part  of  the  building,  and  so  up  again  on  to  the  top- 
most story  protected  by  the  great  golden  roof. 

This  was  the  first  golden  Lhasan  roof  I  had  an  opportunity 
of  studying  carefully.  It  is  always  claimed  that  one  at  least 
of  the  golden  canopies  of  the  Jo-kang  is  really  made  of  plates 
of  gold — and  after  a  close  examination  I  am  half  inclined  to 
think  that  the  central  one  is  actually  made  throughout  of  the 
precious  metal,  extraordinary  though  it  seems — but  in  general 
the  gold  is  coated  heavily  upon  sheets  of  copper,  after  the  copper 
has  been  embossed  or  cast,  or  repousseed,  as  the  fancy  of  the 
artist  suggests.  It  is,  I  believe,  laid  on  in  an  amalgam  of  mer- 
cury, but  of  this  I  could  not  get  any  very  certain  information. 
These  golden  roofs  are  unquestionably  the  most  striking  orna- 
ments of  Lhasa.  One  can  see  them  for  miles,  for,  in  this  light 
clean  air,  no  distance  will  dim  the  burning  tongue  of  white  flame 
that  stabs  like  a  heliograph  from  the  upper  line  of  a  far  misty 
outline  of  palace  or  temple,  and  there  is  no  doubt  that  the  last 
and  greatest  impression  of  Lhasa,  still  vivid  when  nearly  all  else 
has  been  forgotten  with  age,  will  be  that  of  the  first  sight  of 


THE  ENVIRONS  OF  LHASA  361 

"the  Golden  Roofs  of  Potala."  All  that  that  romantic  phrase 
suggested  beforehand  was  realized  to  the  full,  and  just  as  to 
the  opium-sodden  imagination  of  De  Quincey  the  words  "  Con- 
sul Romanus"  summed  up  the  grandeur  of  Rome,  so  perhaps 
these  five  words  will  longest  recall  to  those  who  saw  them  the 
image  of  that  ancient  and  mysterious  faith  which  has  found 
its  last  and  fullest  expression  beneath  the  golden  canopies  of 
Lhasa. 

Returning  to  the  ground,  we  passed  again  through  the  court- 
yard and  out  down  the  steps.  Thence  we  turned  up  toward  the 
trees  which,  from  the  upper  slope,  overhang  Na-chung  Chos- 
kyong.  It  was  a  pretty  little  spot,  cool  and  sequestered,  and 
if  we  had  not  been  specially  invited  to  do  so,  we  should  never 
have  dreamed  of  going  farther  to  where  a  few  plain  whitewashed 
walls  seemed  to  indicate  one  of  the  monks'  dormitories.  Some- 
what uninterested,  we  allowed  ourselves,  however,  to  be  taken 
forward  by  a  monk,  and  after  avoiding  the  teeth  of  a  particu- 
larly large  watchdog,  we  turned  to  the  left  into  one  of  the  pretti- 
est and  best-protected  little  gardens  I  have  ever  seen.  I  leave  it 
to  botanists  to  explain  how  it  is  that  we  found  here,  13,000  feet 
above  the  sea,  a  tall,  flourishing  hedge  of  bamboos,  twenty-five 
feet  high,  shielding  from  the  only  exposed  quarter  the  little 
garden  and  the  little  house  of  the  Magician  himself.  Even  from 
the  little  green  shaded  garden  we  could  see  clearly  enough  that 
this  was  no  ordinary  residence;  a  tiny  stream  of  running  water 
passed  underneath  the  plain  sloping  walls  of  the  wizard's  abode, 
separating  from  its  clean  and  well  sun-blinded  architecture  the 
mallows  and  nasturtiums,  the  trailing  roses  and  the  potted  stocks 
which  might  almost  have  been  collected  into  that  little  space 
together  to  give  the  same  twinge  of  memory  to  an  English  visi- 
tor that  the  whitened  houses  three  hundred  yards  away  must 
have  conveyed  to  men  of  Italy.  A  large  maple  tree  overhangs 
the  entrance  to  the  house. 


362  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

The  interior  of  this  little  residence  is  of  a  dainty  perfection 
that  you  could  hardly  match  in  Japan,  and  instinctively  one  felt 
that  one  should  take  off  one's  boots  before  treading  on  these  ex- 
quisite inlaid  wooden  floors.  Every  part  of  the  surface  of  the 
walls  is  covered  with  minute  miniature-like  frescoes ;  the  private 
chapel,  though  stripped  of  every  ornament,  remained  a  gem,  and 
in  the  wizard's  own  private  room  the  perforated  screens  of  gilt 
and  painted  wood  were  marvels  of  intricate  and  delicate  design. 
We  remained  here  no  long  time,  and  soon  after  made  our  way 
back  to  Lhasa,  well  pleased  indeed  with  our  day's  entertainment. 

I  do  not  know  whether  I  have  been  successful  in  conveying, 
in  even  one  particular,  the  aspect  of  Lhasa  in  its  plain.  Perhaps 
it  is  impossible  to  do  more  than  to  set  out  a  string  of  descriptive 
facts  with  all  the  fullness  that  is  possible,  and  then  let  the  reader 
reconstruct,  with  photographs  and  his  imagination,  what  after 
all  is  more  essential  than  anything  else,  the  atmosphere  which 
enshrouds  the  least  interesting  thing  upon  the  Plain  of  Milk. 

Every  traveler  will  know  at  once  what  I  mean  when  I  say 
that  the  character  of  the  country  is  as  distinct  and  peculiar  to 
itself  as  is  that  of  every  other  Eastern  land,  and  that  the  very 
smell  of  incense  and  burning  butter,  f rowziness  and  never-washed 
humanity,  which  is  inseparable  from  the  smallest  object  inside 
a  Tibetan  temple,  is  as  different  from  the  clean  perfume  of  Japan, 
or  from  the  heavy,  almost  visibly  dirty  air  and  stinks  of  a  Chi- 
nese temple,  as  both  of  these  differ  from  the  tawdry  gorgeousness 
and  cold  make-believe  of  an  Indian  shrine.  There  is  only  one 
place  that  I  know  in  the  world  which  at  all  recalls  the  scent 
of  Tibet,  and  that  is  the  inner  chambers  of  the  underground 
temple  in  the  fort  of  Allahabad,  places  which  ladies  are  rarely 
invited  to  inspect.  Here  the  undecaying  Akshai  Bar,  sacred  to 
Buddha  under  the  name  of  Breguman,  is  probably  the  only 
center  of  Buddhist  worship  where  there  has  been  no  break  in 


THE  ENVIRONS  OF  LHASA  363 

the  continuity  of  worship  from  the  days  of  Huien  Tsang,  the 
Chinese  traveler  of  the  seventh  century,  to  our  own.  I  do  not 
suppose  that  in  this  original  identity  of  creed  there  is  anything 
more  than  a  coincidence— certainly  the  Hindus  have  no  intention 
of  honoring  Gautama  here— but  in  the  dark  underground  cham- 
ber of  this  temple  there  is  the  taste  of  a  gompa.  There,  and 
there  alone,  so  far  as  I  know,  is  that  greasy  warm  stench  of 
mingled  sweetness  and  putridity  which  one  comes  very  soon  to 
associate  with  the  very  sound  of  the  letters  which  spell  Tibet. 

The  Sen-de-gye-sum  or  Three  Great  Monasteries  lie  round 
Lhasa,  north,  west,  and  east.  De-bung  lies  two  and  a  half  to 
three  miles  west-north-west;  Sera  is  two  miles  due  north,  and 
Gaden  is  about  twenty-two  miles  east  as  the  crow  flies,  but  is 
nearly  thirty  by  road.  There  is  a  strong  similarity  between  these 
three  foundations;  they  are  in  every  case  built  in  closely  con- 
nected tiers  of  white  houses,  rising  one  above  another  at  the  foot 
of  a  mountain  spur.  From  a  distance  they  look  clean,  prosper- 
ous, and  not  unpicturesque ;  one  ribald  member  of  the  Mission 
suggested  that  they  looked  like  glorified  Riviera  hotels.  The 
simile  is  not  altogether  unfair,  though  even  the  wildest  dreams 
of  M.  Ritz  can  hardly  include  a  caravansary  for  eight  thousand 
guests.  All  three  were  founded  by  Tsong-kapa,  who  is  re- 
ported, on  almost  worthless  evidence,  to  have  been  born  in  1357 
and  to  have  died  in  14 19.  It  seems  clear,  however,  that  these 
foundations  date  from  the  extreme  end  of  the  fourteenth  century 
to  the  end  of  the  first  quarter  of  the  fifteenth.  The  central  gompa 
may  in  each  case  still  be,  or  at  least  include,  the  original  work 
of  Tsong-kapa,  but  the  endless  series  of  whitewashed  tenements 
built  of  mud  which  surround  them  in  closely  packed  crowds 
must  often  have  been  replaced  since  his  day.  Few  indeed  are 
made  of  granite.  De-bung  is  the  senior  monastery  of  the  three 
in  point  of  importance ;  its  name  means  the  "  rice  heap,"  and  it 
is  spelled  in  the  Tibetan  language  "  abras-spungs."    Here  nearly 


364  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

8,000  monks  occupy  themselves  daily  in  saying  their  offices, 
basking  in  the  sun,  and  intriguing  in  political  affairs.  Dor- 
jieff,  it  will  be  remembered,  was  one  of  this  body,  and  it  was 
commonly  reported  to  us  in  Lhasa  that  the  influence  of  De-bung 
had  for  a  long  time  been  paramount  in  the  Tsong-du.  Luckily, 
perhaps,  for  others,  the  hostility  between  Sera  and  De-bung 
is  very  marked,  and  it  is  even  asserted  by  some  that  the  name 
Sera,  which  lies  just  out  of  sight  of  De-bung,  round  a  pro- 
jecting spur  of  the  northern  hills,  was  chosen  in  order  to  sym- 
bolize the  harm  which  "  ser  "  hail  does  to  rice  heaps.  But  it 
seems  likely  that  the  original  name  was  derived  from  "  ser  " 
gold.  Sera  ^  is  the  community  in  closest  religious  connection 
with  the  Dalai  Lama,  and  it  must  be  remembered  that  anything 
which  belongs  to  his  Holiness  is  never  mentioned  without  the 
prefix  "  ser."  If  it  were  necessary  to  set  on  record  the  fact, 
the  chronicler  of  great  Potala  would  have  to  describe  an  opera- 
tion uncommon  in  Tibet,  as  the  blowing  of  his  Holiness'  golden 
nose  with  his  golden  handkerchief,  or  more  probably,  if  strict 
truth  had  to  be  maintained,  with  his  golden  fingers.  Everything 
about  him  is  golden  in  the  eye  of  the  Tibetan,  his  clothes,  his 
food,  his  chair,  his  decrees,  his  prayers,  all  are  golden,  and  it 
is  more  than  likely  that  the  derivation  from  hail  was  a  happy 
thought  of  some  quick-witted  monk  who  wished  to  crystallize 
into  a  phrase  the  permanent  hostility  that  exists  between  these 
two  monasteries. 

The  distinguishing  characteristic  of  this  monastery  of  De- 
bung  lies  in  its  supernatural  and  oracular  attainments.  Sera, 
on  the  other  hand,  is  chiefly  famous  for  its  relics,  and  Gaden, 
which  is  far  removed  from  the  immediate  strife  and  intrigues 
of  Lhasa,  retains  its  reputation  for  mere  piety.  At  Sera  is  kept 
the  original  dorje  of  Buddha.  I  do  not  know  that  any  European 
visitor,  even  Desideri,  has  ever  been  permitted  to  see  the  imple- 
*  The  traditional  date  of  Sera  is  1417. 


THE  ENVIRONS  OF  LHASA  365 

ment,  but  there  is  no  doubt  that  its  possession,  or  perhaps  its  re- 
puted possession,  is  a  source  of  great  superstitious  strength  to 
this  community.  Here  there  are  5,500  monks,  and  its  nearness 
and  visibility  to  Lhasa  is  no  doubt  a  source  of  considerable 
strength.  The  internal  jurisdiction  of  all  these  monasteries  is 
not  unlike  that  enjoyed  by  an  Oxford  college,  though  more 
serious  offenses  have  to  be  submitted  to  the  council  of  state. 
"  The  idols  here,"  reports  Nain  Singh,  "  differ  in  size  and  hide- 
ousness,  but  the  lower  parts  of  the  figures  are  generally  those 
of  men."  The  Abbe  Hue  allows  himself  some  liberty  of  descrip- 
tion; he  records  the  presence  of  hollies  and  cypresses  and  notes 
that  the  monastery  buildings  stand  out  upon  the  green  base 
of  the  hill.  It  is  necessary  to  record  the  fact  that  Sera  is  less 
wooded  than  any  other  part  of  the  Lhasa  plain,  as  it  stands 
back  against  a  rocky  mountain  clif¥  bare  of  all  vegetation  until 
a  small  shelf,  800  feet  above  the  monastery,  affords  root  hold 
for  a  plantation  of  hardy  poplars  only.  Beside  it,  on  the  plain, 
are  a  few  more  trees  of  the  same  species,  but  the  golden  roof 
of  Sera  must  still  be  counted  its  chief  external  attraction.  The 
General  pitched  the  camp  of  the  escort  about  a  mile  away  from 
this  monastery,  and  the  continual  friendliness  shown  by  the  good 
monks  of  Sera  may  be  attributable  partly  to  this  fact,  but  even 
more  perhaps  to  the  delight  with  which  they  saw  their  hated 
sister  of  De-bung  compelled  to  disgorge  many  hundreds  of 
thousands  of  pounds  of  flour  and  grain. 

Gaden  is  chiefly  famous  because  it  contains  the  tomb  of  Tsong- 
kapa  himself.  The  following  account  of  the  monastery  is  taken 
from  the  Survey  Reports  of  the  Government  of  India  by  Sand- 
berg: 

"It  (the  tomb  of  Tsong-kapa)  is  a  lofty  mausoleum-like 
structure  of  marble  and  malachite  with  a  gilded  roof ;  inside  this 
outer  shell  is  to  be  seen  a  beautiful  chorten  shrine  of  cube,  pyra- 


366  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

mid,  and  surmounting  cone,  all  said  to  be  of  solid  gold.  Within 
this  golden  casket,  wrapped  in  fine  cloths,  inscribed  in  sacred 
Dharani  syllables,  are  the  embalmed  remains  of  the  great  re- 
former, disposed  in  a  sitting  attitude.  Another  notable  object 
here  is  a  magnificent  representation  of  Champo,  the  Buddha  to 
come,  seated  European  fashion  on  a  throne.  Beside  him  stands 
a  life-size  image  of  Tsong-kapa  in  his  character  of  Jan-pal 
Nin-po,  which  is  supposed  to  be  his  name  in  the  Gaden  heavens. 
A  rock-hewn  wall  with  impress  of  hands  and  feet  is  also  shown 
as  Tsong-kapa's.  A  very  old  statue  of  Shinje,  the  lord  of  death, 
is  much  reverenced  here,  every  visitor  presenting  gifts  and  doing 
it  infinite  obeisance.  The  floor  of  the  large  central  chamber 
appears  to  be  covered  with  brilliant  enameled  tiles,  whilst  another 
shrine  holds  an  effigy  of  Tsong-kapa  with  images  of  his  five 
disciples  standing  round  him.  The  library  contains  manuscript 
copies  of  the  saint's  work  in  his  own  handwriting." 

The  last  regent  of  Tibet  was  Abbot  of  Gaden,  a  fact  which 
did  not  save  him  from,  and  perhaps  even  accelerated,  his  assas- 
sination. 

While  we  were  making  these  investigations  and  using  every 
moment  of  our  time  in  the  forbidden  precincts,  negotiations 
were  faring  but  ill.  The  Tibetans  were  trying  their  usual  tac- 
tics; they  were  only  anxious  to  delay  negotiations  on  every  pos- 
sible excuse.  It  must  be  remembered  that  ever  since  the  present 
Dalai  Lama  ousted,  imprisoned  and  ultimately  put  to  death 
the  regent  in  whose  hands  the  entire  political  control  of  Tibetan 
affairs  had  rested.  His  Holiness  has  ruled  his  ministers  with 
a  rod  of  iron.  The  state,  in  a  sense  far  more  exact  than  that  in 
which  Louis  XIV  used  the  phrase,  was  himself,  and  we  found 
a  terrified  unwillingness  on  the  part  of  any  other  official,  however 
high  his  rank,  to  accept  the  responsibility  of  making  any  ar- 
rangement whatever.     It  may  be  suggested  that  the  Tsong-du 


THE  ENVIRONS  OF  LHASA  367 

remained,  and  that  it,  as  the  power  behind  the  throne,  was  quali- 
fied to  carry  on  negotiations;  but  it  must  be  remembered  that 
the  Tsong-du  is  essentially  a  deliberative,  not  an  executive  body ; 
it  is  as  impossible  to  make  a  treaty  with  the  Tsong-du  as  to  make 
one  with  the  House  of  Commons,  and  this  disability  was  one 
which  was  readily  perceived  and  turned  to  use  by  the  Tibetans 
themselves.  Secure  by  their  anomalous  composition  and  acepha- 
lous nature,  the  Tsong-du,  which  now  sat  in  continual  session 
from  morning  to  night,  only  rendered  the  action  of  the  remain- 
ing dignitaries  of  Lhasa  the  more  difficult.  The  Dalai  Lama, 
whose  presence  in  Lhasa  would  have  simplified  matters  for  us 
exceedingly,  had  gone  away,  ostensibly  on  a  pilgrimage  con- 
nected with  the  religious  meditation  in  which  he  had  now  been 
immersed  since  the  first  mention  of  the  approach  of  an  English 
Mission.  It  is  true  that,  as  we  have  seen,  his  seclusion  was 
one  which  His  Holiness  was  ready  to  suspend  at  any  moment 
at  which  he  thought  that  he  could  deliver  an  effective  stroke  in 
the  political  arena,  but  in  the  eyes  of  Tibetans  it  perhaps  justi- 
fied his  flight  from  his  capital— an  act  of  prudence  which 
strangely  resembled  Mr.  Kruger's  in  1900.  It  may  be  that,  as 
in  this  other  case  of  a  people  bigotedly  superstitious,  sensitive 
to  foreign  intrusion  in  any  form,  and  in  their  origin  formed  by 
a  distinctly  religious  exodus,  the  head  of  the  state  may  have  felt 
that  his  absence,  by  interposing  even  a  few  months'  delay,  al- 
lowed time  for  the  operations  of  Providence.  More  probably 
the  flight  of  the  Dalai  Lama  was  also  commended  to  him  by 
the  fact  that  in  the  future  he  would  be  able,  at  his  leisure,  to  deal 
with  the  situation  which  had  been  created  in  his  absence.  That 
the  Chinese  would  ever  actively  interfere  must  have  been  the 
last  thing  he  expected,  and  knowing  the  climate  of  his  country 
well,  he  must  have  realized  a  cogent  reason  for  our  early  with- 
drawal. 

Perhaps  he  builded  better  than  he  knew,  but  the  coping-stone 


368  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

has  still  to  be  set  upon  his  policy;  we  do  not  even  now,  in  Janu- 
ary, 1905,  know  the  real  results  in  Lhasa  itself  of  the  expedition, 
and,  though  the  matter  will  be  touched  upon  in  greater  detail 
hereafter,  it  may  be  said  that  upon  the  action  of  this  unknown 
factor  in  Central  Asian  politics  the  future  almost  entirely  de- 
pends. When  he  fled  from  Lhasa  he  left  the  great  seal  in  the 
charge  of  the  Tipa  (or  Ti)  Rimpoche,  but,  as  the  latter  plain- 
tively remarked,  he  had  been  given  no  specific  authority  to  use  it. 
Immediately  before  our  arrival  in  Lhasa  we  made  the  impor- 
tant discovery  that  the  1890-93  Convention,  which  was  de- 
nounced by  the  Dalai  Lama  as  having  been  made  without  the 
co-operation  or  consent  of  Tibet,  had,  as  a  matter  of  fact,  been 
duly  discussed  and  formally  approved  by  the  Tsong-du  in  special 
session,  and  this  information  did  not  suggest  any  considerable 
trustworthiness  in  any  promises  the  Tibetans  might  now  make. 
I  remember  writing  to  the  Times  a  letter  dealing  with  the  po- 
litical situation  in  which  optimism  struggled  with  a  recognition 
of  the  obvious  disadvantages  under  which  the  Commissioner  la- 
bored; on  the  following  day,  the  12th  of  August,  the  disheart- 
ening news  arrived  that  the  Tsong-du  had  actually  drafted  a 
letter  in  answer  to  our  demands  of  an  impertinent  and  almost 
defiant  nature.  The  communication  was  not  sent  directly  to  us. 
The  Amban,  to  whom  it  had  been  intrusted,  consulted  Mr. 
Wilton  privately  before  officially  sending  it  on.  Mr.  Wilton's 
advice  was  that,  unless  the  Tibetans  were  looking  out  for  serious 
trouble,  the  letter  had  better  be  withdrawn  at  once.  This  was 
done,  but  it  was  impossible  to  avoid  the  conclusion  that  the 
Amban  himself  would  have  been  perfectly  willing  to  deliver 
the  letter  unless  some  such  vigorous  protest  had  been  made. 
It  was,  in  fact,  a  ballon  d'essai  to  which  he  should  not  have 
lent  the  sanction  of  his  position.  How  far  throughout  the  nego- 
tiations Yu-tai  was  playing  a  double  game  no  one  at  present 
knows,  but  this  first  suggestion  of  his  double  dealing  was  after- 


THE  ENVIRONS  OF  LHASA  369 

ward  unfairly  remembered  in  London  when  the  news  that  he  had 
ultimately  refused  to  sign  the  treaty  was  telegraphed  home. 
He  had  no  authority  to  sign  without  the  consent  of  the  Wai- 
wu-pu.  To  us  he  presented  a  never-failing  front  of  sympathy 
and  apparent  good-feeling,  he  never  made  a  speech  or  wrote  a 
letter  without  referring  to  the  pig-headed  stupidity  of  the  people 
intrusted  to  his  care,  he  was  enthusiastic  in  his  praise  of  Colonel 
Younghusband's  moderation  in  all  respects,  and  to  judge  from 
his  words  one  might  have  thought  that  by  our  advance  a  minia- 
ture millennium  had  been  inaugurated  for  the  down-trodden 
people  of  Tibet.  That  there  was  some  ground  for  these  state- 
ments is  suggested  by  the  complaint  of  the  Dalai  Lama  himself 
that  by  honest  and  even  excessive  payment  throughout  our  march 
we  had  seduced  the  affections  of  his  people. 

There  can  be  no  doubt  of  our  popularity  with  the  laity.  The 
market  outside  the  town,  which  was  formed  in  spite  of  the  pub- 
licly expressed  disapproval  of  the  Council,  was  from  the  first 
crowded  by  hundreds  of  eager  sellers,  and  it  could  have  been  small 
satisfaction  to  the  monks  looking  out  from  the  high  walls  of  Po- 
tala  to  see  the  densely  crowded  acre  of  chaffering  peddlers  and 
careless  or  generous  purchasers  which  daily  took  up  a  position  on 
some  convenient  dry  patch  just  outside  the  camp  limits.  In  this 
market  articles  of  food  naturally  predominated;  meat  and  flour 
were  supplied  from  the  De-bung  store  cellars,  so  that  condiments 
and  other  luxuries  formed  the  staple  commodities.  It  was  an  odd 
scene.  By  eight  o'clock  in  the  morning  a  roaring  trade  was  being 
done  in  curry  powder,  turnips,  walnuts— they  would  have  been 
dear  in  Piccadilly— sugar  in  yellow  and  white  balls,  cigarettes— 
of  the  ubiquitous  Pedro  brand— apples,  small  russets  with  a  tart 
flavor,  sealing-wax— one  of  the  best  products  of  Lhasa,  good 
transparent  brown  stuff,  of  which  I  secured  a  large  store,  chu- 
pattis,  acid  green  peaches,  native  candles— looking  like  short, 
squat  fireworks,  and  molded  upon  a  piece  of  bamboo— lengths  of 


370  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

cloth  done  up  in  soundly  sewn  wrappings,  cabbages,  red  pots  full 
of  curds,  Tibetan  shoes,  celery,  and  condensed  milk  in  tins,  car- 
rots, onions,  eggs  in  thousands,  and  milk  in  big  unglazed  red 
ware.  It  was  pleasant  to  watch  the  big  Sikhs  and  Pathans  cheer- 
ily haggling  for  some  coveted  sugar  plum,  sitting  down  on  their 
heels  for  half-an-hour  to  cheapen  it  an  anna,  and  then,  after  they 
had  made  their  bargain,  looking  in  a  bewildered  way  at  the  little 
irregularly  shaped  scraps  of  silver  which  a  voluble  young  Tibe- 
taness  had  given  them  in  change.  For  in  Lhasa  a  "  tanka  "  has 
a  hole  gouged  in  the  middle,  has  its  corners  filed  off,  and  is  then 
cut  across  the  middle  without  ceasing  to  be  legal  tender. 

The  official  rate  of  exchange  was  three  tankas  to  a  rupee,  but 
this,  though  inevitable  for  reasons  of  convenience,  represented  an 
enormous  profit  to  the  Tibetans,  for  the  intrinsic  value  of  a  tanka 
is  about  four  and  a  fifth  pennies.  The  first  principles  of  the  the- 
ory of  exchange  were  grasped  at  once  by  the  inhabitants,  who 
would  go  up  and  down  the  bazaar  holding  out  tankas  in  threes 
and  badgering  every  one  they  met  for  a  Queen's  headed  rupee  ^ 
in  exchange,  with  the  pertinacity  and  importunity  of  a  stall 
holder  at  a  fashionable  bazaar.  By  noon  the  bazaar  dwindled 
away,  and  after  tiffin  there  was  really  no  one  left  on  the  ground. 

To  return  to  the  political  situation.  The  assistance  and  the 
power  of  Russia  were  no  longer  believed  in,  and,  on  the  other 
hand,  the  capability  of  the  Indian  Government  to  reach  Lhasa 
whenever  they  might  wish  to  do  so  had  been  demonstrated  beyond 
dispute.  Other  things  had  no  less  weight  in  our  favor;  the  re- 
sistance of  the  Tibetans  had  been  blown  away  before  us  like  leaves 
in  autumn,  and  there  was  not  a  man  in  the  country  who  did  not 
realize  that  our  care  of  their  wounded  afterward  was  as  thorough 
as  the  punishment  we  inflicted  at  the  moment.    Trade  and  credit 

*The  new  rupee  with  the  King's  head  was  looked  upon  at  first  with  sus- 
picion. The  old  one  is  called  the  "Lama"  rupee,  from  a  belief  that  the 
Queen's  veiled  head  represents  a  famous  teacher. 


THE  ENVIRONS  OF  LHASA  371 

are  proverbially  plants  of  slow  growth,  and  slower  in  the  East 
than  anywhere  else.  We  may  not  see  much  result  for  years,  but 
the  leaven  of  respect  for  our  strength  and  confidence  in  our  hon- 
esty may  safely  be  allowed  in  Tibet  to  work  upward  from  the  bot- 
tom to  the  top. 

In  purely  political  matters,  one  name  separates  itself  from  that 
of  the  common  crowd,  and  it  was  a  name  we  had  not  heard  before 
we  reached  the  capital.  There  is  in  Lhasa  a  young  monk  who 
apparently  to  some  extent  organizes  the  action  of  the  Tsong-du. 
The  "  Loseling  Kempo  "  is  a  man  upon  whom  the  eye  of  the  In- 
dian Government  may  well  be  kept.  He  is  strong  enough  not  to 
desire  outward  recognition  of  his  strength,  and  working,  as  he 
does,  through  the  Tsong-du,  the  double  intangibility  enjoyed  by 
string-pullers  and  corporations  alike  makes  it  ten  times  more  diffi- 
cult for  us  to  lay  our  fingers  upon  this  ultimate  arbiter  whose  in- 
fluence seems  likely  at  no  distant  date  to  exceed  that  of  the  Dalai 
Lama  himself.  That  he  is  actively  opposed  to  us  I  do  not  exactly 
know;  he  probably  represents  the  sullen  and  bitter  resentment 
against  our  intrusion  which  naturally  enough  is  felt  by  the  official 
priestly  caste,  but  when  the  Tibetans  have  had  time  quietly  to  re- 
view the  whole  situation  it  may  be  found,  even  by  the  Lamaic 
hierarchy  itself,  that  we  have  been  no  enemies  to  their  indepen- 
dence and  self-respect,  and  at  that  moment,  if  the  good  offices  of 
the  Loseling  Kempo  can  be  unostentatiously  secured,  our  future 
relations  with  this  hermit  kingdom  may  be  facilitated  in  a  manner 
that  ten  treaties  might  fail  to  achieve. 

Meanwhile,  in  spite  of  the  successful  signing  of  the  treaty  and 
in  spite  of  his  exile  and  formal  deposition  by  the  Chinese,  the 
dominating  factor  in  the  situation  is  beyond  question  the  Illus- 
trious and  Most  Holy  Dalai  Lama,  Ngak-wang-lo-zang-tub-dan- 
gya-tso.  Defender  and  Protector  of  the  Buddhist  faith. 


CHAPTER  XIX 

THE  POTALA  AND  THE  CATHEDRAL 

FOR  many  days  the  Mission  waited  for  the  Tibetans  to  ar- 
range their  internal  affairs  and  come  to  the  work  of  nego- 
tiation. The  first  camp  near  Norbu-ling  was  abandoned  by  the 
expeditionary  force,  and  the  Mission,  with  a  guard  of  one  bat- 
talion of  Pathans,  moved  across  the  swampy  plain  to  Lha-lu, 
which,  as  we  have  seen,  had  been  put  at  the  disposal  of  Colonel 
Younghusband  by  the  four  Councilors.  Formal  visits  were  again 
and  again  paid  within  the  precincts  of  Lhasa ;  the  country  round 
was  visited  and  surveyed  with  care,  one  party  going  as  far  as  the 
plain  beyond  the  Pembu  la  to  the  north-east.  They  reported  the 
existence  of  a  plain  even  more  luxuriant  in  vegetation  than  that  of 
Lhasa,  but  it  was  admitted  by  the  Tibetans  that  this  was  nearly 
the  last  of  their  really  fertile  tracts  of  land  in  a  northerly  direc- 
tion. General  Macdonald  moved  the  remainder  of  the  force  to  a 
comparatively  dry  patch  on  the  plain  about  a  mile  nor'-nor'-east 
of  the  Potala,  and  except  for  the  commissariat  officers,  whose 
work  on  an  expedition  is  never  done,  there  was  a  quiet  time  for 
the  men  composing  the  Commissioner's  escort.  For  many  of  the 
officers,  too,  there  was  not  very  much  to  do  during  the  day ;  fish- 
ing was  the  favorite  occupation,  and  an  unexpected  number  of 
hooks  and  lines  was  discovered  in  the  force.  Fly-fishing  was 
soon  abandoned  for  minnows  and  spoons.  Some  of  the  natives 
obtained  excellent  sport  with  tsamba  paste.  Major  Iggulden  was 
beyond  question  the  most  successful  angler  of  the  expedition,  and 
from  time  to  time  he  reported  catches  of  over  60  and  70  as  the 

372 


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THE  POTALA  AND  THE  CATHEDRAL   373 

result  of  a  short  afternoon's  sport.  A  race  meeting  was  organ- 
ized, and  the  entries  comprised  almost  every  beast  of  private  (and 
a  large  number  of  those  of  public)  ownership  in  the  lines.  The 
view  of  Lhasa  from  Lha-lu  house  is  merely  that  of  Chagpo-ri 
and  the  back  view  of  the  Potala,  as  the  high  sand  embankments  of 
the  Kaling  chu  *  effectually  prevent  any  sight  of  the  city  itself 
from  the  level  of  the  plain.  This  is  a  curious  thing,  and  enters 
considerably  into  one's  conception  of  the  place.  The  two  hills 
to  the  west  entirely  shut  off  a  view  of  the  town  as  one  comes  in 
from  De-bung,  and  looking  from  Sera  on  the  north,  these  high, 
white  sand-banks  diverging  across  the  plain  still  conceal  the 
greenery  and  gold  of  the  city.  Only  the  Potala  stands  up  majestic 
and  defiant. 

Ma  Shao  yiin,  in  his  Tibetan  itinerary,  refers  with  admiration 
to  the  "  gorgeous  green  and  dazzling  yellow  colors  which  at  Po- 
tala fascinate  the  eye."  Ta  Ching-i-tung  chih— who  asserts  that 
the  height  above  ground  of  the  golden  finials  is  436  feet  10  inches 
— describes  it  with  greater  fidelity  to  nature  as  a  "  wondrous  peak 
of  green  with  its  halls  perched  on  the  summit,  resplendent  with 
vermilion  and  combining  natural  beauty  with  architectural 
charm."  It  is  a  pity  that  this  magnificent  building  should  have 
proved  to  be  so  disappointing  inside.  We  discovered  that  the 
outside  of  the  Potala  and  the  inside  of  the  Jo-kang  are  by  far  the 
most  interesting  things  in  Lhasa.  But  it  is  curious,  also,  that 
while  the  interior  of  the  Potala  is  indistinguishable  from  the  in- 
teriors of  a  score  of  other  large  Tibetan  lamaseries,  the  Jo-kang 
has  actually  no  outside  at  all.  To  this  latter  building  I  shall  re- 
turn later.  There  are  passages  and  halls  by  miles  and  scores. 
Here  and  there  in  a  chapel  burns  a  grimy  butter  lamp  before  a 
tarnished  and  dirty  image.    Here  and  there  the  passage  widens  as 

'  From  a  note  in  the  Wei  Tsang  t'u  chih  by  Ma  Shao  yiin  I  am  inclined  to 
think  that  these  embankments  bury  the  granite  blocks  which  before  the  days 
of  Karpi  formed  the  city  walls  of  Lhasa. 


374  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

a  flight  of  stairs  breaks  the  monotony  of  grimy  walls.    The  sleep- 
ing cells  of  the  monks  are  cold,  bare,  and  dirty.    The  actual  room 
in  which  the  Treaty  was  signed  was  of  fair  size— six  hundred 
were  easily  accommodated  in  it— and  hangings  and  screens  made 
a  brave  show  for  the  moment,  but  for  the  rest,  the  Potala  is  a 
never-ending  labyrinth  of  corridors  and  courts  and  walls  as  un- 
kempt as  those  of  the  Palkhor  choide,  Jang-kor-yang-tse,  or  Ta- 
ka-re.     Some  of  the  audience  halls  are  magnificent  and  well 
painted,  but  there  is  nothing,  with  one  exception,  which  calls  for 
any  particular  note  from  one  end  of  the  huge  building  to  the  other, 
so  far,  at  least,  as  any  member  of  the  expedition  discovered.    For 
the  credit  of  the  Dalai  Lama  it  is  to  be  hoped  that  the  chief  orna- 
ments had  been  removed  or  buried.    Mr.  Claude  White  and  Mr. 
Wilton,  who  made  the  examination  of  the  palace  their  special 
care,  investigated  a  very  large  number  of  the  rooms  of  the  Potala, 
but  eventually  retreated  in  disappointment  from  a  task  which 
seemed  to  possess  neither  interest  nor  end.    The  gilded  tombs  of 
a  few  previous  incarnations  form  the  exception  to  which  I  have 
referred,  but  even  these  seemed  inadequate  and  out  of  proportion 
to  the  gigantic  casket  in  which  they  lie.     It  must  be  confessed, 
though  the  words  are  written  with  considerable  reluctance,  that 
cheap  and  tawdry  are  the  only  possible  adjectives  which  can  be 
applied  to  the  interior  decoration  of  this  great  palace  temple. 
Part  of  it  is  fine  in  design,  most  of  it  commonplace,  all  of  it  dirty. 
Madame  de  Chatelain  would  have  smiled  to  see  the  disappoint- 
ment of  the  Mission,  for — though  there  are  no  lovely  women  in 
Lhasa  who  play  the  fiddle,  and  one  doubts  whether  much  en- 
chantment would  follow  if  they  did — the  effect  produced  by  the 
first  sight  of  this  imposing  palace,  splendid  as  the  figment  of  the 
wildest  dream,  was  as  overwhelming  and  attractive  as  that  which 
Gilbert  saw,  and  our  disillusionment  was  afterward  as  great  as 
his. 

The  first  palace  on  this  spot  was  built  by  Srong-tsan-gambo, 


r. 

< 


O 

5 


THE  POTALA  AND  THE  CATHEDRAL   375 

but  destroyed  by  the  Chinese  after  a  brief  existence  in  670.  It 
was  known  as  Yumbu  Lagang.  Different  buildings  were  subse- 
quently erected  without  regard  to  any  consistent  scheme.  I  con- 
fess that  I  find  it  difficult  to  reconcile  the  present  pile  with  the  de- 
scription or  sketch  by  Grueber.  This  traveler  was  in  Lhasa  in 
1 66 1,  nineteen  years  after  the  reputed  completion  of  the  present 
building,  but  his  picture  of  it  is  utterly  unlike  the  reality.  There 
must  have  been  enormous  additions  in  the  eighteenth  century,  and 
even  later,  for  Manning's  note  as  to  the  lack  of  balance  and  plan 
in  its  architecture  is  surely  unjust. 

The  zigzag  stairs,  protected  by  echelon  balustrades,  lead  down- 
ward into  the  great  square  court  at  the  foot  of  the  Marpo-ri, 
guarded  by  seven  square  bastion-like  guard-houses,  used  as  pris- 
ons. The  rest  of  the  court  is  used  for  the  accommodation  of  a 
few  soldiers  and  a  great  many  beasts  of  burden;  outside  it  is  a 
squalid  little  hamlet. 

Of  the  Dalai  Lama  himself  of  course  we  saw  nothing.  The 
following  description  of  a  reception  by  the  Grand  Lama  within 
the  Potala  palace  is  taken  from  the  pages  of  Chandra  Das'  jour- 
nal, but  it  is,  I  think,  only  right  to  point  out  that  in  the  opinion 
of  many  well  qualified  to  judge,  to  some  extent,  at  least,  the 
writer  may  have  been  dependent  upon  the  information  of  others. 

"  Arriving  at  the  eastern  gateway  of  Potala,  we  dismounted 
and  walked  through  a  long  hall,  on  either  side  of  which  were  rows 
of  prayer  wheels,  which  every  passer-by  put  in  motion.  Then, 
ascending  three  long  flights  of  stone  steps,  we  left  our  ponies  in 
care  of  a  bystander— for  no  one  may  ride  further— and  proceeded 
toward  the  palace  under  the  guidance  of  a  young  monk.  We  had 
to  climb  up  five  ladders  before  we  reached  the  ground  floor  of 
Phodang-marpo,  or  '  the  Red  palace,'  thus  called  from  the  ex- 
terior walls  being  of  a  dark-red  color.  Then  we  had  half-a-dozen 
more  ladders  to  climb  up,  and  we  found  ourselves  at  the  top  of . 


376  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

Potala  (there  are  nine  stories  to  this  building),  where  we  saw  a 
number  of  monks  awaiting  an  audience.  The  view  from  here  was 
beautiful  beyond  compare;  the  broad  valley  of  the  Kyi  chu,  in  the 
center  of  which  stands  the  great  city  surrounded  by  green  groves ; 
the  gilt  spires  of  the  Jo-kang  and  the  other  temples  of  Lhasa,  and 
farther  away  the  great  monasteries  of  Sera  and. De-bung,*  behind 
which  rose  the  dark-blue  mountains. 

"  After  a  while  three  lamas  appeared,  and  said  that  the  Dalai 
Lama  would  presently  conduct  a  memorial  service  for  the  bene- 
fit of  the  late  Meru  Ta  Lama  (Great  Lama  of  Meru  gomba), 
and  that  we  were  allowed  to  be  present  at  it.  Walking  very 
softly,  we  came  to  the  middle  of  the  reception  hall,  the  roof  of 
which  is  supported  by  three  rows  of  pillars,  four  in  each  row, 
and  where  light  is  admitted  by  a  skylight.  The  furniture  was 
that  generally  seen  in  lamaseries,  but  the  hangings  were  of  the 
richest  brocades  and  cloths  of  gold;  the  church  utensils  were 
of  gold,  and  the  frescoing  on  the  walls  of  exquisite  fineness. 
Behind  the  throne  were  beautiful  tapestries  and  satin  hangings 
forming  a  great  gyal-tsan,  or  canopy.  The  floor  was  beautifully 
smooth  and  glossy,  but  the  doors  and  windows,  which  were 
painted  red,  were  of  the  rough  description  common  throughout 
the  country. 

"  A  Donyer  approached,  who  took  our  presentation  khatag, 
but  I  held  back,  at  the  suggestion  of  Chola  Kusho,  the  present 
I  had  for  the  Grand  Lama ;  and  when  I  approached  him  I  placed 
in  his  lap,  much  to  the  surprise  of  all  present,  a  piece  of  gold 
weighing  a  tola.  We  then  took  our  seats  on  rugs,  of  which 
there  were  eight  rows ;  ours  were  in  the  third,  and  about  ten  feet 
from  the  Grand  Lama's  throne,  and  a  little  to  his  left. 

"  The  Grand  Lama  is  a  child  of  eight,  with  a  bright  and  fair 
complexion  and  rosy  cheeks.  His  eyes  are  large  and  penetrat- 
ing, the  shape  of  his  face  remarkably  Aryan,  though  somewhat 
*As  a  matter  of  fact.  De-bung  cannot  be  seen  from  the  Potala. 


THE  POTALA,  THE  HOME  OF  THE  GRAND  LAMA 

One  of  the  wonders  of  the  world 


THE  POTALA  AND  THE  CATHEDRAL   lyy 

marred  by  the  obliquity  of  his  eyes.  The  thinness  of  his  person 
was  probably  due  to  the  fatigue  of  the  Court  ceremonies  and  to 
the  religious  duties  and  ascetic  observances  of  his  estate.  A  yel- 
low mantle  draped  his  person,  and  he  sat  cross-legged  with  joined 
palms.  The  throne  on  which  he  sat  was  supported  by  carved  lions, 
and  covered  with  silk  scarfs.  It  was  about  four  feet  high,  six 
feet  long,  and  four  feet  broad.  The  State  officers  moved  about 
with  becoming  gravity;  there  was  the  Kuchar  Khanpo,  with  a 
bowl  of  holy  water,  colored  yellow  with  saffron ;  the  Censer-car- 
rier, with  a  golden  censer  with  three  chains;  the  Solpon  chenpo, 
with  a  golden  tea-pot;  and  other  household  officials.  Two  gold 
lamps,  made  in  the  shape  of  flower  vases,  burned  on  either  side 
of  the  throne. 

"  When  all  had  been  blessed  and  taken  seats,  the  Solpon  chenpo 
poured  tea  in  his  Holiness's  golden  cup,  and  four  assistants 
served  the  people  present.  Then  grace  was  said,  beginning  with 
Om,  Ah,  Hum,  thrice  repeated,  and  followed  by,  *  Never  losing 
sight  even  for  a  moment  of  the  Three  Holies,  making  reverence 
even  to  the  Three  Precious  Ones.  Let  the  blessing  of  the  Three 
Konchog  be  upon  us,'  etc.  Then  we  silently  raised  our  cups  and 
drank  the  tea,  which  was  most  deliciously  perfumed.  In  this 
manner  we  drank  three  cupfuls,  and  then  put  our  bowls  back 
in  the  bosoms  of  our  gowns. 

"  After  this  the  Solpon  chenpo  put  a  golden  dish  full  of  rice 
before  the  Dalai  Lama,  and  he  touched  it,  and  then  it  was  divided 
among  those  present;  then  grace  was  again  said,  and  his  Holi- 
ness, in  a  low,  indistinct  tone,  chanted  a  hymn,  which  was  re- 
peated by  the  assembled  lamas  in  deep  grave  tones.  When  this 
was  over,  a  venerable  man  rose  from  the  first  row  of  seats  and 
made  a  short  address,  reciting  the  many  acts  of  mercy  the  Dalai 
Lamas  had  vouchsafed  Tibet,  at  the  conclusion  of  which  he 
presented  to  his  Holiness  a  number  of  valuable  things;  then  he 
made  three  prostrations  and  withdrew,  followed  by  all  of  us. 


378  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

"  As  I  was  leaving,  one  of  the  Donyer  chenpo's  (or  chamber- 
lain) assistants  gave  me  two  packets  of  blessed  pills,  and  another 
tied  a  scrap  of  red  silk  round  my  neck — these  are  the  usual  re- 
turn presents  the  Grand  Lama  makes  to  pilgrims." 

This  is  probably  the  best  extant  description  •  of  a  reception 
at  the  Potala,  and  for  that  reason  I  have  inserted  it.  It  will 
probably  be  many  years  before  a  white  man  has  the  chance  of 
verifying  even  an  incident  described  in  it.  Hue,  the  last  Euro- 
pean before  ourselves  to  see  it,  gives  an  extraordinary  descrip- 
tion of  the  palace.  It  is  so  strangely  beside  the  truth  that  one 
is  obliged  to  wonder  what  pains  he  took  to  verify  other  state- 
ments he  made  in  his  book  of  travels.    Here  it  is : 

"  Le  palais  du  Tale  Lama  merite  a  tous  egards  la  celebrite  dont 
il  jouit  dans  le  monde  entier.  Vers  la  partie  septentrionale  de  la 
ville  et  tout  au  plus  a  un  quart  d'heure  de  distance,  il  existe  une 
montagne  rocheuse,  peu  elevee,  et  de  forme  conique.  Elle 
s'eleve  au  milieu  de  cette  large  vallee,  comme  un  ilot  isole  au- 
dessus  d'un  immense  lac. 

"  Cette  montagne  porte  le  nom  de  Bouddha-La,  c'est-a-dire 
montagne  de  Bouddha,  montagne  divine;  c'est  sur  ce  socle  gran- 
diose, prepare  par  la  nature,  que  les  adorateurs  du  Tale  Lama  ont 
edifie  un  palais  magnifique  ou  reside  en  chair  et  en  os  leur  divi- 
nite  vivante. 

"  Ce  palais  est  un  reunion  de  plusieurs  temples,  de  grandeur  et 
de  beaute  differentes;  celui  qui  occupe  le  centre  est  eleve  de 
quatre  etages,  et  domine  tous  les  autres;  il  est  termine  par  un 
dome  entierement  reconvert  de  lames  d'or,  et  entoure  d'un  grand 
peristyle  dont  les  colonnes  sont  egalement  dorees." 

Such  a  description  as  this  is  puzzling.  Nothing  is  more  char- 
acteristic and  striking  at  the  Potala  than  the  long,  almost  un- 


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THE  POTALA  AND  THE  CATHEDRAL   379 

broken  front  of  granite  wall,  reaching  almost  from  one  end  to 
the  other  of  the  hill-crest,  supporting  a  homogeneous  and  closely 
welded  series  of  buildings.  The  truth  is  that  very  little  used  to 
be  accurately  noted  by  Asian  travelers  before  the  middle  of  the 
last  century.  It  is  not  unlikely  that  the  possibility  of  having 
the  lie  direct  given  to  a  verbal  description  by  a  later  visitor's 
camera  may  have  helped  to  bring  this  about. 

Of  the  other  great  features  of  Lhasa,  the  Jo-kang  and  the 
Do-ring  remain  pre-eminent.  The  latter,  as  was  said  at  the  be- 
ginning of  this  book,  is  the  oldest  existing  document  in  Tibetan 
history;  it  records  a  treaty  made  in  783  between  King  Ral-pa- 
chan  of  Tibet  and  his  neighbor,  and  late  enemy,  the  Chinese 
Emperor.  It  is  a  well  quarried  slab  of  granite,  about  six  inches 
in  thickness  and  eight  feet  in  height,  set  in  a  granite  frame. 
It  immediately  fronts  the  entrance  to  the  Cathedral,  from  which 
it  is  distant  only  thirty  paces  across  the  yard.  Immediately  over 
it  is  the  great  willow  tree  which  springs  from  a  hair  of  Buddha 
buried  among  its  roots— a  splendid  tree,  and  one  which,  perhaps, 
has  been  able  to  grow  to  greater  perfection  from  the  protection 
of  the  wall  built  round  its  diverging  trunk.  This  inclosure  fills 
the  western  side  of  the  little  courtyard  opposite  the  west  door  of 
the  Cathedral.  Between  it  and  the  projecting  wings  of  the 
Government  offices,  which  here,  as  elsewhere,  crowd  all  round 
upon  the  walls  of  the  Jo-kang,  there  is  a  space  on  either  side, 
and  the  Do-ring  stands  in  the  direct  line  between  them.  The 
design  of  the  pediment  surmounting  the  stone  is  strong  and 
undoubtedly  of  the  original  date  of  the  monument.  It  represents 
two  dragons,  simply  designed  in  somewhat  deep  relief,  of  which 
the  edges  have  been  severely  treated  by  the  weather  of  many 
centuries.  Whether  the  stone  itself  is  or  is  not  the  original 
granite  slab  is  a  matter  somewhat  more  difficult  to  decide.  At. 
first  I  was  convinced  that  it  must  have  been  renewed  once  at 
least.     This  appeared  to  me  to  be  probable  for  more  than  one 


38o  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

reason;  the  first  was  the  clean-cut  surface  of  the  stone  where 
the  quarry-man  had  originally  "  flatted  "  it  for  the  inscription, 
combined  with  the  recent  appearance  of  the  lettering,  so  far  as 
it  can  now  be  seen;  and,  secondly,  the  rapidity  with  which  the 
Tibetans  have  ground  into  it  the  cup-marks  with  which  the 
whole  Chinese  or  eastern  face  of  the  stone  is  now  disfigured. 
Some  twenty  years  ago  the  writing  was,  we  are  assured  by  Chan- 
dra Das,  still  distinctly  legible;  the  merest  glance  at  it  shows 
how  far  this  is  from  being  the  case  to-day.  If  all  this  damage 
has  been  done  in  so  short  a  time,  it  seems  impossible  this  can  be 
the  original  stone,  for  the  process  of  cup-marking  is  one  of  the 
oldest  in  the  world,  and  at  this  rate  would  long  ago  have  de- 
stroyed the  surface  of  the  slab  over  and  over  again. 

On  the  other  hand,  it  must  be  confessed  that  the  inaccuracy 
of  Chandra  Das  in  many  places  in  his  book  is  notorious;  if 
in  his  time  the  inscription  was  totally  illegible,  if,  in  fact,  as 
seems  more  likely,  these  cup-marks  are  really  the  products  of 
half -centuries  instead  of  years,  there  is  no  reason,  Mr.  Hayden 
tells  me,  why  the  granite  slab  with  its  inscription,  although  ex- 
posed to  the  weather  of  a  thousand  years  and  more,  should  not 
be  the  original.  He  said  that  the  friable  appearance  of  the 
granite  hill  slopes  we  had  passed  on  the  way  up  was  deceptive, 
and  that  a  new  piece  cut  from  the  living  rock  was  of  an  ex- 
ceedingly hard  and  good  character.  The  western  face  of  the 
Do-ring,  which  is  turned  inward  toward  the  willow,  is  free  from 
cup-marks,  but  it  is  covered  with  a  blackish,  mildewed  growth 
which  conceals  the  inscription  to  a  great  extent.  This  is  a  gritty 
crust  which  can  be  partially  removed  by  the  finger-nail,  but  it 
seems  to  have  affected  the  surface  of  the  stone  deeply,  and  this 
side  is  scarcely  more  legible  than  the  other. 

This  inscription,  taken  from  a  translation  in  the  Asiatic  So- 
ciety's journal  of  the  copy  still  kept  as  a  record  in  the  Amban's 
Residency,  is  as  follows: 


THE  POT  ALA  AND  THE  CATHEDRAL   381 

"  The  learned,  warlike,  filial  and  virtuous  Emperor  of  the 
Great  Tang,  and  the  divine  and  all-wise  Tsanpu  of  the  Great 
Fan,  two  sovereigns  allied  as  father  and  son-in-law,  having 
consulted  to  unite  the  gods  of  the  land  and  grain,  have  concluded 
a  sworn  treaty  of  grand  alliance,  which  shall  never  be  lost  nor 
changed.  Gods  and  men  have  been  called  as  witnesses,  and  in 
order  that  all  ages  and  generations  may  resound  in  praise  the 
sworn  text,  section  by  section,  has  been  engraved  on  a  stone 
monument. 

"  The  learned,  warlike,  filial  and  virtuous  Emperor,  and  the 
divine  and  all-wise  Tsanpu,  Te-chih-li-tsan,  their  all-wise  ma- 
jesties, with  intuitive  wisdom  reaching  far,  and  knowing  both 
present  and  future,  good  and  evil,  with  feelings  of  benevolent 
pity  and  imperial  grace  overspreading  all,  without  distinction 
of  native  and  foreign,  have  negotiated  an  alliance,  and  resolved 
to  give  to  the  myriad  families  peace  and  prosperity,  and  with 
like  thought  have  completed  a  long,  lasting  and  good  deed.  They 
have  re-connected  the  bonds  of  affectionate  kinship,  strength- 
ened anew  the  right  policy  of  neighbourly  friendship,  and  made 
this  great  peace. 

"  The  two  countries  Fan  and  Han  keeping  the  lands  and 
boundaries  which  they  now  rule:  all  to  the  east  shall  be  within 
the  borders  of  the  great  Tang,  all  to  the  west  shall  be  the  terri- 
tory of  the  great  Fan.  Neither  the  one  nor  the  other  shall 
slaughter  or  fight ;  they  shall  not  move  weapons  or  armour,  nor 
shall  they  plot  to  encroach  on  each  other's  territory.  Should 
any  men  be  liable  to  suspicion,  they  shall  be  taken  alive  and  their 
business  enquired  into,  after  which  they  shall  be  given  clothes 
and  food  and  sent  back  to  their  own  country. 

"  Now  the  gods  of  the  land  and  of  grain  have  been  united  to 
make  this  great  peace,  yet  to  keep  up  the  good  relationship  of 
the  father  and  son-in-law  there  must  be  constant  communication. 
The  one  shall  rely  on  the  other,  and  constantly  send  envoys  to 


382  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

and  fro.  Both  Fan  and  Han  shall  change  horses  at  the  Chiang- 
chun  Pass,  and  to  the  east  of  the  Suiyung  Barrier  the  great 
Tang  shall  provide  for  the  mission,  while  to  the  west  of  the 
City  of  Chingshui  the  great  Fan  shall  entertain  them.  They 
shall  both  be  treated  with  due  ceremony,  according  to  the  near 
relationship  of  the  Imperial  father  and  son-in-law,  so  that  within 
the  two  borders  neither  smoke  nor  dust  shall  rise,  no  word  of 
invasion  or  plunder  shall  be  heard,  and  there  shall  be  no  longer 
anxious  fear  and  trembling.  The  frontier  guards  shall  be  dis- 
missed, and  the  land  shall  have  perfect  quiet  in  consequence  of 
this  joyful  event.  Their  grace  shall  be  handed  down  to  ten 
thousand  generations,  and  sounds  of  grateful  praise  shall  extend 
to  wherever  the  sun  and  the  moon  shine.  The  Fan  shall  be  at 
peace  in  the  Fan  country;  the  Han  also  shall  be  joyful  in 
the  Han  country,  and  this  is  truly  a  great  deed  of  good  augury. 
They  shall  keep  their  sworn  oath,  and  there  shall  never  be  any 
change. 

"  They  have  looked  up  to  the  three  Precious  ones,  to  all  the 
holy  saints,  to  the  sun,  moon,  stars  and  planets,  and  begged  them 
to  be  their  witnesses.  A  sworn  treaty  like  this  each  one  has  seve- 
rally written  and  exposed,  having  sacrificed  the  victims  for  the 
sworn  ceremony  and  ratified  this  text.  Should  they  not  keep 
these  oaths,  and  either  Fan  or  Han  disregard  the  treaty  and 
break  the  sworn  agreement,  may  there  come  to  him  misfortune 
and  calamity.  Provided  only  that  the  work  of  rebels  against 
the  state,  or  secret  plotters,  shall  not  be  included  as  a  breach  of 
the  sworn  ceremony. 

"  The  Fan  and  Han  sovereigns  and  ministers  have  all  bowed 
down  and  solemnly  made  oath  and  carefully  drawn  up  the  writ- 
ten documents.  The  witnesses  of  the  two  sovereigns,  the  officers 
who  ascended  to  the  altar,  have  reverently  written  their  names 
below,  and  the  sworn  treaty,  of  which  this  is  a  true  copy,  has 
been  deposited  in  the  royal  treasury." 


THE  POTALA  AND  THE  CATHEDRAL   383 

As  to  other  misconceptions,  it  may  be  said  at  once  that  there 
are  no  "  old  willows  whose  aged  trunks  are  bent  and  twisted 
like  writhing  dragons  on  either  side,"  nor  can  the  monument, 
from  any  point  of  view,  be  called  a  pillar.  There  is  no  flag- 
pole in  this  courtyard  at  all.  The  Jo  itself  is  not  anywhere  near 
the  propylon. 

The  Do-ring  witnessed  one  of  the  famous  assassinations  of 
the  world.  King  Lang-darma,  who  reigned  at  the  close  of  the 
ninth  century,  was  the  Julian  of  Lamaism.  With  a  ruthless  hand 
he  attempted  to  extirpate  Buddhism  and  restore  the  earlier  and 
simpler  devil  worship  of  the  country.  A  monk,  disguised  as 
a  Shamanist  or  Black  Hat  devil  dancer,  approached  Lang-darma 
as  he  was  halting  outside  the  western  entrance  of  the  Jo-kang 
one  day  in  the  year  900.  Gamboling  and  capering,  now  ad- 
vancing, now  withdrawing,  he  eventually  approached  the  mon- 
arch, whose  attention  he  had  gained  probably  by  his  disguise, 
near  enough  to  inflict  one  terrific  blow  which  smashed  in  Lang- 
darma's  forehead.  The  apostate  fell  dead  where  he  stood.  This 
audacious  act,  which  laid  the  foundation  of  Lamaic  supremacy, 
is  annually  recorded  by  a  mystery  play,  on  the  spot  of  Lang- 
darma's  assassination.  But  in  the  description  of  it,  vividly 
written  in  his  book  on  Lamaism,  Colonel  Waddell  suggests 
that  neither  in  its  origin  nor  in  its  realistic  details  is  the  play 
based  upon  the  facts  we  have  mentioned.  It  has  been  slightly 
adapted  so  as  to  record  the  crime,  but  as  a  matter  of  origin 
it  is  of  a  far  greater  antiquity. 

There  remains  yet  to  be  described  the  sacred  heart  and  center, 
not  of  Lhasa  alone,  but  of  Central  Asia,  and  I  have  been  asked 
to  reprint  as  it  stands  the  description  of  the  Jo-kang  which  ap- 
peared in  the  Times  of  the  24th  of  September.  Though  some- 
what doubtful  I  have  therefore,  writing  months  afterward,  not 
cared  to  make  alterations,  even  when  some  inducement,  such  as 


384  •  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

an  added  detail  or  the  better  turn  of  a  sentence,  might  increase 
the  literary  value  of  the  description.  Such  additions  as  are 
necessary  I  have  added  as  distinct  interpolations.  There  is  to 
me  an  intense  pleasure  in  looking  back  over  the  pages  of  my  note- 
book to  see  the  scrawled  sketches  and  illegibly  jotted  notes  which 
I  was  careful  to  make  during  an  experience  which,  for  sheer 
interest,  I  suppose  will  rarely,  if  ever,  be  repeated.  I  almost 
think,  if  I  may  say  so  in  no  spirit  of  boasting,  that  perhaps  no 
traveler  will  ever  have  the  chance  exactly  to  feel  as  much  again, 
however  far  his  travels,  however  dangerous  his  pilgrimage. 
Unexpectedly  there  rose  up,  through  no  deliberate  effort  of  my 
own,  an  opportunity  of  seeing  that,  without  which  a  visit  to 
Lhasa  would  have  been  after  all  but  a  half-achieved  success, 
without  which  there  would  have  been  left  still  the  crown  and 
key-stone  of  all  the  edifice  of  Buddhism  for  another  and  a  later 
traveler  to  see  for  the  first  time.  Three  of  us  were  to  be  the  first 
white  men  to  look  upon  the  great  golden  idol  of  Lhasa. 

"  It  is  not  always  realized  that  it  is  in  the  Cathedral  of  Lhasa, 
not  in  the  palace  outside,  that  the  spiritual  life  of  Tibet  and  of 
the  countless  millions  of  Northern  Buddhism  is  wholly  centred. 
The  policy  of  isolation  which  has  for  so  long  been  the  chief 
characteristic  of  the  faith  finds  its  fullest  expression  in  the  fa- 
natical jealousy  with  which  this  temple,  the  heart  and  focus 
of  Lamaism,  has  been  safeguarded  against  the  stranger's  intru- 
sion. What  Tibet  is  to  the  rest  of  the  world,  what  Lhasa  is  to 
Tibet,  that  the  Jo-kang  is  to  Lhasa,  and  it  is  not  entirely  clear, 
in  spite  of  more  than  one  so-called  description  of  the  interior, 
that  any  European,  or  even  native  spy,  has  ever  before  ventured 
inside.  There  has,  perhaps,  been  reason  enough  for  this.  It 
is  possible  that  pardon  for  having  visited  the  city  of  Lhasa, 
or  the  Potala  Palace — which  is  in  comparison  almost  a  place  of 
resort— might  have  been  obtained  on  terms,  but  there  could 


THE  EXTERIOR  OF  THE  JO-KANG  TEMPLE,   THE  HOLY  OF 

HOLIES   OF  ALL  ASIA 

Within  is  the  most  sacred  shrine  in  Lhasa 


THE  POTALA  AND  THE  CATHEDRAL   385 

hardly  have  been  a  reprieve  for  the  luckless  intruder  once  dis- 
covered  inside  these  darkened  and  windowless  quadrangles. 
Certainly  neither  the  ground  plan  published  by  Giorgi  in  the 
1 8th  century  nor  any  of  the  detailed  accounts  published  more 
recently  suggested  that  their  authors  had  any  first-hand  ac- 
quaintance with  the  place. 

"  As  I  have  noticed  in  a  former  letter,  the  exterior  is  devoid 
of  either  beauty  or  dignity.  The  interior,  on  the  other  hand, 
is  unquestionably  the  most  important  and  interesting  thing  in 
Central  Asia.  It  is  the  treasure-house  and  kaabah,  not  of  the 
country  only,  but  of  the  faith,  and  it  is  curious  that,  while  the 
magnificent  Potala  is  a  casket  containing  nothing  either  ancient 
or  specially  venerated,  the  priceless  gems  of  the  Jo-kang  should 
be  housed  in  a  building  which  literally  has  no  outside  walls  at 
all.  All  round  the  Cathedral  the  dirty  and  insignificant  council 
chambers  and  offices,  in  which  the  affairs  of  Tibet  are  debated 
and  administered,  lean  like  parasites  against  it  for  support,  hud- 
dled together  and  obscuring  the  sacred  structure,  to  which  they 
owe  their  stability,  in  a  way  that  seems  mischievously  significant 
of  the  whole  state  of  Tibet. 

"  From  Chagpori  the  five  great  gilded  roofs  are  indeed  to  be 
seen  blazing  in  the  sun  through  the  tree-tops  hard  by  the  Yutok 
Bridge,  but  even  this  suggestion  of  importance  vanishes  as 
one  treads  a  way  through  the  filth  of  the  narrow  streets  to  the 
western  entrance.  So  crowded  upon  is  the  Jo-kang  that  this 
is  actually  the  only  part  of  the  structure  which  is  visible  from  the 
street  which  surrounds  it. 

"  It  is  not  strangers  only  against  whom  the  great  doors  of  the 
Jo-kang  have  been  barred.  Exclusion  from  its  sacred  precincts 
is  officially  pronounced  against  those  also  who  have  incurred  the 
suspicion,  or  displeasure,  of  the  ruling  hierarchy  of  Lhasa,  and 
it  is  a  curious  proof  of  the  autocratic  power  which  is  exercised 
with  regard  to  this  Cathedral,  as  well  as  of  the  insignificance 


386  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

of  the  suzerainty,  that  on  August  ii,  in  this  year,  the  Viceroy 
himself,  going  in  state  to  the  Jo-kang  to  offer  prayer  on  the 
occasion  of  the  Chinese  Emperor's  birthday,  had  the  doors  shut 
in  his  face.  To  this  insult  the  opportunity  I  have  enjoyed  of 
examining  the  temple  with  a  fulness  that  would  otherwise  have 
been  impossible  was  due.  Anxious  to  retaliate,  the  Amban — 
who  was  on  a  subsequent  day  grudgingly  permitted  to  visit  the 
ground  floor  only  of  the  building — used  our  presence  in  Lhasa 
to  teach  the  keepers  of  the  Cathedral  a  lesson  in  manners.  At 
any  rate,  to  our  surprise,  a  definite  invitation  was  one  day  ex- 
tended to  one  or  two  of  the  members  of  the  Mission  to  make 
a  morning  visit  into  Lhasa  for  the  purpose  of  examining  the 
treasures  of  the  innermost  sanctuary  of  Buddhism.  It  was  ac- 
cepted. A  Chinese  guard  of  the  Residency,  armed  with  tridents, 
halberds,  and  scythe-headed  lances,  provided  our  escort,  and  im- 
mediately upon  our  arrival  the  great  doors,  half  hidden  in  the 
shadow  under  the  many-pillared  propylon,  were  opened  and  at 
once  barred  again  behind  us. 

"  Just  in  front,  seen  through  a  forest  of  pillars,  was  an  open 
and  verandahed  court-yard.  Its  great  age  was  at  once  apparent. 
The  paintings  on  the  walls  were  barely  distinguishable  through 
a  heavy  cloak  of  dirt  and  grease,  and  it  was  difficult  to  imagine 
the  colours  with  which  the  capitals  of  the  pillars,  and  the  raftered 
roof  overhead,  had  originally  been  painted.  The  court  is  open 
to  the  sky  and  is  surrounded  by  none  of  the  small  chapels  which 
are  the  chief  feature  of  the  inner  quadrangles  of  the  Jo-kang. 
The  architecture  is  of  the  kind  invariable  in  religious  buildings 
in  Tibet— a  double  row  of  pillars  carry  the  half-roof  overhead, 
each  supporting  on  a  small  capital  a  large  bracketed  abacus, 
voluted  and  curved  on  both  sides  and  charged  in  the  centre  with 
a  panel  of  archaic  carving.  The  wooden  doors  which  secure 
both  entrances  of  the  first  court  are  of  immense  size,  heavily 
barred,  and  embossed  with  filigree  ring  plates  of  great  age. 


O 

M 
H 
X 
U 

o 


u 

U 
as 


C/3 


7) 


-J 


t/: 

O 

o 


O 


THE  POTALA  AND  THE  CATHEDRAL   387 

"At  the  opposite  end  of  the  court  an  open  door  communi- 
cates with  the  second  court,  revealing  a  bright  mass  of  holly- 
hocks, snapdragon,  and  stocks,  vivid  in  the  sun.     The  sanctity 
of  the  temple  obviously  increased  as  we  ventured  into  the  inner 
court.     Its  sides  are  honeycombed  by  small  dark  chambers,  ap- 
parently built  in  the  thickness  of  the  enormous  wall.     Each  is 
an  idol-crowned  sanctuary.    Into  these  obscure  shrines  one  stum- 
bles, bent  almost  double  to  avoid  the  dirt  of  the  low  greasy 
lintel.     Once  inside,  the  eye  requires  some  time  to  distinguish 
anything  more  than  the  dim  outlines  of  an  altar  in  the  middle 
of  the  chamber.     On  it  stand  one  or  two  copper  or  brass  bowls 
filled  high  with  butter,  each  bearing  on  its  half-congealed  surface 
a  dimly  burning  wick  in  a  little  pool  of  self-thawed  oil.     These 
dim  beads  of  yellow  light  provide  all  the  illumination  of  the  cave, 
and  after  a  little,  one  can  just  distinguish  the  solemn  images 
squatting  round  the  walls,  betrayed  by  points  and  rims  of  light, 
reflected  here  and  there  from  the  projections  and  edges  of  golden 
draperies  or  features.    The  smell  is  abominable.    The  air  is  ex- 
hausted  and   charged   with   rancid   vapours.      Everything   one 
touches  drips  with  grease.     The  fumes  of  burning  butter  have 
in  the  course  of  many  generations  filmed  over  the  surfaces  and 
clogged  the  carving  of  doors  and  walls  alike.    The  floor  under- 
foot is  slippery  as  glass.     Upon  this  receptive  foundation,  the 
grime  and  reek  of  centuries  have  steadily  descended  with  results 
that  may  be  imagined.     Except  that  the  images  themselves  ap- 
parently receive  from  time  to  time  a  perfunctory  wipe  with  the 
greasy  rag  which  is  generally  to  be  found  in  a  conspicuous  place 
beside  a  Tibetan  altar,  there  is  not  in  one  of  these  numerous 
chapels  the  slightest  sign  of  consideration,  respect,  or  care. 

"  One  comes  out  again  into  the  open  air  with  relief,  only  to 
find,  three  or  four  yards  on,  the  entrance  to  another  of  these  cata- 
comb-like chapels.  They  entirely  surround  the  walls  of  this 
interior  court,  and  to  the  eye  of  the  stranger  hardly  differ  one 


388  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

from  another.  Indeed,  the  monks  themselves  when  questioned 
seem  to  find  some  difficulty  in  distinguishing  the  identity  of  the 
images  in  the  successive  chapels.  In  front  of  some  of  these  re- 
cesses hangs  a  curtain  of  a  curious  kind,  peculiar,  so  far  as  I 
know,  to  this  temple.  Horses'  bits,  of  steel  and  of  a  plain  pat- 
tern, are  linked  together  ring  to  ring  by  short  lengths  of  twisted 
iron,  the  whole  forming  an  original  and  effective  screen.  This 
is  secured  to  the  left-hand  jamb  by  a  long  bolt  and  staple,  and 
the  whole  is  fastened  by  one  of  the  gigantic  locks  which  are 
adopted  from  China,  and  are  perhaps  the  most  ingenious  product 
of  the  country. 

"  The  centre  of  the  court  is  taken  up  by  an  inner  sanctuary 
formed  on  three  sides  by  low  shelves,  covered  with  small  brass 
Buddhas  backed  by  larger  images  arranged  between  the  pillars 
supporting  the  roof  of  the  half-roof,  and  on  the  fourth  side  by 
a  plain  trellis  or  iron  pierced  by  a  similar  plain  gateway.  From 
inside,  therefore,  none  of  the  chapels  or  the  statues  ranged  along 
the  walls  of  the  court  are  visible,  and  the  darkness  thereby  caused 
under  the  portico  is  greatly  increased  by  the  half-drawn  awnings, 
of  which  the  ropes  slant  downwards  across  the  opening,  and  form 
perches  for  a  special  colony  of  orange  and  purple  swallows,  whose 
nests  cling  up  to  the  overhanging  eaves. 

"  In  this  central  court  two  statues  sit,  one — that  to  the  left — 
is  about  life  size,  the  other  is  of  gigantic  proportions.  Both  of 
them  present  the  same  peculiarity — one  which  cannot  fail  to 
arrest  the  eye  at  once.  Each  is  seated  upon  a  throne  in  European 
fashion,  and  this  identifies  them  at  once.  Of  all  the  Bodisats, 
heroes,  or  teachers  which  fill  the  calendars  of  Lamaism,  only  the 
image  of  the  coming  Buddha  is  thus  represented.  How  this 
tradition  arose  the  lamas  themselves  are  unable  to  explain,  but 
it  is  of  great  antiquity,  and  it  is  to  Europe  that  the  eyes  of  Bud- 
dhism are  turned  for  the  appearance  of  the  next  reincarnation 
of  the  Great  Master.    As  will  be  remembered,  the  Tzar  of  Russia 


THE  POTALA  AND  THE  CATHEDRAL   389 

was  recently  recognized  as  a  reincarnate  Bodisat/  and  it  is  not 
impossible  that  this  legend  paved  the  way  considerably  for  his  ac- 
ceptance. Crowned  with  a  huge  circlet  set  with  innumerable 
turquoises,  Maitreya  sits  here  with  one  hand  raised  in  benediction, 
the  other  resting  upon  his  knee.  On  his  breast  lies  a  tangled 
mass  of  jewelled  chains  and  necklaces,  and  vast  *  roundles  '  of 
gold,  set  with  concentric  rings  of  turquoises,  half  hide  his  huge 
shoulders.  We  caught  only  a  hurried  glimpse  as  we  passed  on; 
for  the  order  in  which  the  sights  of  a  Buddhist  temple  may  be 
visited  is  invariable,  and  we  took  care  not  to  offend  the  sus- 
ceptibilities of  the  lamas  by  deviating  from  the  orthodox  left- 
to-right  course  which  forms  part  of  their  religious  observances. 
The  *  way  of  the  wine '  is  a  custom  which  would  need  no  ex- 
planation to  a  Buddhist. 

"  Once  under  the  eastern  end  of  the  Jo-kang,  one  finds  the 
darkness  deepen  fast.  There  is  no  light  but  such  as  can  find  its 
way  under  the  wide  half-roofs  and  through  the  trellises,  screens, 
and  awnings  which  almost  entirely  close  in  the  central  court.  In 
the  gloom  one  passes  by  ancient  chapel  after  chapel,  where  the 
dim  half-light  barely  reveals  the  existence  of  the  dark  recess 
guarded  by  its  iron  screen.  The  archaic  walls  share  with 
the  smooth  worn  pillars  the  burden  of  the  warped  rafters 
overhead.  The  stone  slabs  underfoot  are  worn  into  a  channel, 
and  the  grime  of  a  thousand  years  has  utterly  hidden  the  pictures 
— if  there  ever  were  any — on  the  walls.  At  last  one  turns  to 
the  right,  passing  close  beneath  the  uplifted  figure  of  the  great 
Tsong-kapa,  the  Luther  of  Central  Asia.  It  is  a  contemporary 
likeness,  and  one  could  wish  that  there  were  more  light  by  which 
to  see  it  than  is  afforded  by  the  dim  radiance  of  the  butter-lamp 
before  his  knees.    But  his  very  posture  is  significant ;  for,  instead 

*Kawaguchi,  the  Japanese  traveler,  says  that  he  has  been  identified  as 
"Ze  Zongawa."  This,  in  O'Connor's  opinion,  is  merely  a  misreading  of 
Tsong-kapa.  , 


390  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

of  having  his  back  to  the  wall  behind  him,  Tsong-kapa  faces 
south,  and  this  is  the  first  indication  that  we  are  at  last  drawing 
near  to  the  Holy  of  Holies. 

"We  have  now  reached  the  eastern  end  of  the  Cathedral, 
and  are  passing  behind  the  trellis-work  of  the  inner  court;  in 
the  twilight  it  is  difficult  to  distinguish  the  half-seen  figures  which 
people  the  recesses  and  line  the  sides  of  the  path  along  which  we 
grope  our  way.     Ten  paces  more  and  the  Jo  itself  is  before  us. 

"  The  first  sight  of  what  is  beyond  question  the  most  famous 
idol  in  the  world  is  uncannily  impressive.  In  the  darkness  it  is 
at  first  difficult  to  follow  the  lines  of  the  shrine  which  holds  the 
god.  One  only  realizes  a  high  pillared  sanctuary  in  which  the 
gloom  is  almost  absolute,  and  therein,  thrown  into  strange  re- 
lief against  the  obscurity,  the  soft  gleam  of  the  golden  idol 
which  sits  enthroned  in  the  centre.  Before  him  are  rows  and 
rows  of  great  butter-lamps  of  solid  gold,  each  shaped  in  curious 
resemblance  to  the  pre-Reformation  chalices  of  the  English 
Church,  Lighted  by  the  tender  radiance  of  these  twenty  or  thirty 
beads  of  light,  the  great  glowing  mass  of  the  Buddha  softly  looms 
out,  ghostlike  and  shadowless,  in  the  murky  recess. 

"  It  is  not  the  magnificence  of  the  statue  that  is  first  perceived, 
and  certainly  it  is  not  that  which  makes  the  deepest  and  most 
lasting  impression.  For  this  is  no  ordinary  presentation  of 
the  Master.  The  features  are  smooth  and  almost  childish ;  beauti- 
ful they  are  not,  but  there  is  no  need  of  beauty  here.  Here  is  no 
trace  of  that  inscrutable  smile  which,  from  Mukden  to  Ceylon, 
is  inseparable  from  our  conceptions  of  the  features  of  the  Great 
Teacher.  Here  there  is  nothing  of  the  saddened  smile  of  the 
Melancholia  who  has  known  too  much  and  has  renounced  it  all 
as  vanity.  Here,  instead,  is  the  quiet  happiness  and  the  quick 
capacity  for  pleasure  of  the  boy  who  had  never  yet  known  either 
pain,  or  disease,  or  death.  It  is  Gautama  as  a  pure  and  eager 
prince,  without  a  thought  for  the  morrow,  or  a  care  for  to-day. 


THE  POT  ALA  AND  THE  CATHEDRAL   391 

No  doubt  the  surroundings,  which  are  effective  almost  to  the 
verge  of  theatricahty,  account  for  much,  but  this  beautiful  statue 
is  the  sum  and  climax  of  Tibet,  and  as  one  gazes  one  knows  it 
and  respects  the  jealousy  of  its  guardians.  The  legendary  his- 
tory of  this  idol  is  worth  retelling.  It  is  believed  that  the  like- 
ness was  made  from  Gautama  himself,  in  the  happier  days  of  his 
innocence  and  seclusion  in  Kapali-vastu.  It  was  made  by  Vis- 
vakarma — no  man,  but  the  constructive  force  of  the  universe — 
and  is  of  gold,  alloyed  with  the  four  other  elemental  metals, 
silver,  copper,  zinc,  and  iron,  symbolical  of  this  world,  and  it 
is  adorned  with  diamonds,  rubies,  lapis-lazuli,  emeralds,  and  the 
unidentified  Indranila,  which  modern  dictionaries  prosaically  ex- 
plain as  sapphire.  This  priceless  image  was  given  by  the  King 
of  Magadha  to  the  Chinese  Emperor  for  his  timely  assistance 
when  the  Yavanas  were  over-running  the  plains  of  India.  From 
Peking  it  was  brought  as  her  dowry  by  Princess  Konjo  in  the 
seventh  century.  The  crown  was  undoubtedly  given  by  Tsong- 
kapa  himself  in  the  early  part  of  the  fifteenth  century,  and  the 
innumerable  golden  ornaments  which  heap  the  khil-kor  before 
the  image  are  the  presents  of  pious  Buddhists  from  the  earliest 
days  to  the  present  time.  Among  them  are  twenty-two  large  but- 
ter-lamps, eight  of  a  somewhat  smaller  size,  twelve  bowls,  two 
'  Precious  Wheels  of  the  Law,'  and  a  multitude  of  smaller  arti- 
cles, all  of  the  same  metal. 

"  These  are  arranged  on  the  three  shelves  of  the  khil-kor,  and 
the  taller  articles  conceal  the  whole  of  the  image  from  his  shoul- 
ders downwards.  To  this  fact  may  perhaps  be  due  the  common, 
but  mistaken,  description  of  the  Jo  as  a  standing  figure.  Across 
and  across  his  breast  are  innumerable  necklaces  of  gold,  set  with 
turquoises,  pearls,  and  coral.  The  throne  on  which  he  sits  has 
overhead  a  canopy  supported  by  two  exquisitely  designed  dragons 
of  silver-gilt,  each  about  ten  feet  in  height.  Behind  him  is  the 
panel   of   conventional   wooden   foliage,   and  the   *  Kyung,'   or 


392  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

Garuda  Bird,  overhead  can  just  be  seen  in  the  darkness.  Closer 
examination  shows  that  almost  every  part  of  the  canopy  and  seat 
is  gilded,  gold,  or  jewelled.  The  crown  is  perhaps  the  most  in- 
teresting jewel.  It  is  a  deep  coronet  of  gold,  set  round  and  round 
with  turquoise,  and  heightened  by  five  conventional  leaves,  each 
enclosing  a  golden  image  of  Buddha,  and  encrusted  with  precious 
stones.  In  the  centre,  below  the  middle  leaf,  is  a  flawless  tur- 
quoise six  inches  long  and  three  inches  wide,  the  largest  in  the 
world.  Behind  the  throne  are  dimly  seen  in  the  darkness  huge 
figures  standing  back  against  the  wall  of  the  shrine  all  round. 
Rough-hewn,  barbarous,  and  unadorned  they  are,  but  nothing 
else  could  have  so  well  supplied  the  background  for  this  treasure 
of  treasures  as  the  Egyptian  solemnity  of  these  dark  Atlantides, 
standing  shoulder  to  shoulder  on  altar  stones,  where  no  lamps  are 
ever  lighted  and  no  flowers  are  ever  strewn.  Before  the  entrance, 
protecting  the  treasures  of  the  shrine,  is  the  usual  curtain  of 
horses'  bits.  This  was  unfastened  at  our  request,  and  we  were 
allowed  to  make  a  careful  examination  of  the  image. .  The  gems 
are  not,  perhaps,  up  to  the  standard  of  a  European  market;  so 
far  as  one  could  see,  the  emeralds  were  large,  but  flawed,  and, 
as  is  of  course  inevitable,  the  pearls,  though  of  considerable  size, 
were  lustreless;  but  it  would  be  difficult  to  surpass  the  exquisite 
workmanship  of  everything  connected  with  this  amazing  image, 
and  a  closer  inspection  did  but  increase  the  impression  of  opu- 
lence." Nothing  was  more  striking  than  the  persistent  use  of 
pearls,  and  amber  and  coral.  As  one  looked,  there  was  almost 
the  very  sound  of  the  far  distant  and  unknown  sea  in  among  these 
murky  caverns  of  granite  darkness  and  dirt. 

"The  altar  below  the  khil-kor  is  of  silver,  ornamented  with 
conventional  figures  of  birds  in  repousse  work,  and  one  smiled  to 
see  in  the  most  conspicuous  place  of  all,  thrown  carelessly  in  a 
cleft  between  two  of  the  supports,  the  usual  greasy  rag,  with 
which  the  sacred  image  was  daily  rubbed.     Two  long  katags 


in 
< 
X 


in 

a 

o 
X 


> 

o 

X 

a 
X 


ui 


J2 


O 

<  -s 

^  1 

!-l  5 

<  " 
o 

S3 


THE  POTALA  AND  THE  CATHEDRAL   393 

descend  from  the  crown  one  from  either  side  above  the  ears. 
Between  the  two  dragons  and  the  image  itself  are  two  square 
pillars  of  silver  heavily  ornamented.  The  edge  of  the  canopy 
above  is  crisped.  One  could  not  see  in  that  light  how  it  was 
finished  above. 

"  Outside,  the  maroon-robed  monks  sat  and  droned  their  never- 
ending  chant.  We  pass  by  them,  and,  after  a  glance  at  the  Mai- 
treya  at  nearer  range,  we  were  taken  upstairs  to  the  first  floor, 
which  runs  only  along  the  inner  court,  passing  on  our  way  the 
famous  representation  of  Chagna  Dorje.  This,  in  one  account 
of  the  Jo-kang,  is  said  to  be  the  statue  round  the  neck  of  which 
a  rope  was  once  tied  by  order  of  the  apostate.  King  Langdarma, 
to  drag  it  from  its  place ;  thereupon  the  miscreant  was,  of  course, 
promptly  and  miraculously  destroyed.  As  a  matter  of  fact  it  is 
an  image  cut  in  low  relief  upon  the  wall  itself  of  the  Jo-kang, 
gilded  and  coloured,  and  honoured  always  with  rows  of  copper 
lamps.  I  made  a  rapid  sketch  of  it.  The  right  hand  is  raised  and 
holds  something  which  looks  like  a  sword  or  a  sceptre.  All  of 
it  is  crude  and  rough  to  the  last  degree.  This  is  but  another 
example  of  the  inaccuracy  which  characterizes  all  the  extant  de- 
scriptions of  the  Cathedral  of  Lhasa.  It  would  be  easy  to  multi- 
ply similar  cases;  in  fact,  hardly  anything  has  been  properly 
noted.  On  the  first  floor  there  are  chapels  maintained  by  the 
devotion  of  special  races  of  the  Buddhist  faith.  Among  them 
the  Nepalese  chapel  was  pointed  out.  The  story  that  there  is 
here  the  image  of  Buddha  brought  by  the  Nepalese  wife  of 
Srong-tsan-gambo,  is  without  foundation.  This  image,  or  one 
claiming  to  be  it,  is  at  the  monastery  of  Ki-long  or  Ki-rong,  near 
the  Nepalese  frontier. 

"  Above,  on  the  second  floor,  is  an  image  which,  after  the  Jo 
itself,  is  the  most  important  treasure  that  the  Jo-kang  con- 
tains. In  the  south-eastern  corner  of  this  storey  is  the  armoury, 
where  the  walls  and  pillars  alike  are  loaded  with  ancient  and 


394  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

grotesque  instruments  of  war.  From  this  room  a  low,  narrow 
passage  leads  down  half-a-dozen  stone  steps  into  a  small  dun- 
geon, where  the  statue  of  the  guardian  goddess,  Palden-Lhamo, 
is  worshipped.  This  is  a  most  amazing  figure.  The  three-eyed 
goddess,  cro"wned  with  skulls,  grins  affably  with  mother-of-pearl 
teeth  from  her  altar;  upon  her  head  and  breast  are  jewels  which 
the  Jo  himself  might  condescend  to  wear.  Eight  large,  square 
charm-boxes  of  gold  and  gems,  two  pairs  of  gold-set  turquoise 
earrings,  each  half  a  foot  in  length,  and  a  diamond-studded  fillet 
on  the  brow  beneath  the  crown  are  perhaps  the  most  conspicuous 
ornaments.  Her  breast-plate  of  turquoise  and  corals  is  almost 
hidden  by  necklaces,  and  a  huge  irregular  pearl,  strongly  re- 
sembling the  '  Dudley '  jewel  in  shape,  is  at  last  distinguishable 
in  the  centre  leaf  of  her  crown.  Before  her  burn  butter-lamps, 
and  brown  mice  swarm  fearlessly  over  walls  and  floor  and  altar, 
so  tame  that  they  did  not  resent  being  stroked  on  the  lap  of  the 
goddess  herself. 

"  With  this  famous  image  of  the  guardian  deity — who,  as  every 
Tibetan  knows,  from  the  Dalai  Lama  to  the  peasant  in  the  field, 
was  reincarnated  during  the  last  century  as  Queen  Victoria — the 
list  of  treasures  in  the  Jo-kang  of  a  special  interest  to  Europeans 
is  perhaps  concluded.  But  for  the  Buddhist  scholar  there  is  an 
unexplored  wealth  which  it  may  be  many  years  before  any  second 
visitor  will  have  the  privilege  of  inspecting,  or  the  knowledge  to 
appreciate.  The  great  eleven-faced  Shen-re-zig,  the  *  precious  ' 
image  of  Tsong-kapa,  the  innumerable  figures  of  divine  teachers, 
each  symbolically  representing  the  spiritual  powers  with  which 
he  was  endowed,  the  great  series  of  the  disciples  of  Buddha,  the 
statue  of  the  Guru  Rimpoche,  the  usual  *  chamber  of  horrors,' 
and  hundreds  of  other  objects,  each  worthy  of  the  great  Pantheon 
of  Lamaism— all  these  must  for  the  moment  remain  unnoticed. 
But  the  longer  one  stays  within  these  strange  and  sacred  courts, 
the  more  amazing  does  the  contrast  appear  between  the  priceless 


THE  POTALA  AND  THE  CATHEDRAL  395 
riches  and  historic  sanctity  of  their  contents  and  the  squaHd  ex- 
terior of  the  most  sacred  structure  in  all  the  vast  domain  of  Bud- 
dhism. Yet  the  face  of  the  Buddha  remains  the  dominant  im- 
pression of  the  whole." 

As  we  left  the  Cathedral  a  significant  thing  occurred.  I  do  not 
suggest  for  a  moment  that  the  Chinese  deliberately  let  us  in  for 
the  hostile  demonstration  which  we  now  encountered,  but  the 
fact  that  they  had  used  the  presence  of  our  troops  outside  to  inflict 
upon  the  Jo-kang  what  the  lamas  and  perhaps  the  people  of  Lhasa 
also  regarded  as  a  slight,  may  have  incensed  the  people.  Our 
horses  had  been  left  outside  the  western  gates,  and  the  fact  of  our 
being  inside  the  building  was  therefore  patent  to  every  passer-by. 
We  emerged  from  the  dark  inclosures  of  the  Cathedral  into  the 
blazing  sunlight  to  find  half  the  population  of  Lhasa  waiting  for 
us  in  a  dense,  growling  crowd.  They  were  pressing  upon  our 
horses  and  men,  and  they  had  filled  the  entire  courtyard  right  up 
to  the  Do-ring. 

I  am  not  perfectly  certain  who  gave  the  order,  but  I  am  in- 
clined to  think  that  it  was  the  Viceroy's  first  secretary,  who  ac- 
companied us  on  our  tour  of  inspection  round  the  temple ;  imme- 
diately, a  great,  powerfully  built  lama  with  a  weighted  eight-foot 
whip  of  what  looked  like  rhinoceros  hide  ran  forward  and 
struck  out  right  and  left,  inflicting  appalling  blows  on  the  packed 
crowd.  It  sullenly  gave  way  before  him,  and  an  avenue  was  left 
through  the  courtyard,  to  the  road  leading  out  toward  the  town 
door  and  the  Yutok  Sampa.  I  had  walked  forward  a  few  paces 
to  look  again  at  the  Do-ring,  not  entirely  realizing  the  position, 
while  the  others  mounted  their  horses  and  slowly  rode  out.  The 
first  stone  came  with  a  crash  against  the  Do-ring  itself,  missing 
Mr.  White's  head  by  a  few  inches.  It  was  the  signal  for  a  hun- 
dred more.  Great  jagged  pieces  of  granite,  weighing  two  or 
three  pounds,  kicked  out  of  the  walls  or  pulled  up  from  the  road, 


396  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

crashed  from  the  house-tops  and  the  street  upon  our  little  party, 
and  it  was  interesting  to  notice  that  the  stones  were  directed  ob- 
viously against  our  Chinese  escort  rather  than  against  ourselves. 
We  had,  of  course,  our  revolvers  in  our  pockets,  but  even  a  single 
shot  over  their  heads  under  such  circumstances,  though  it  would 
without  question  instantly  have  brought  the  Tibetans  to  reason, 
might,  in  the  long  run,  have  complicated  the  negotiations,  so  we 
rode  out  slowly,  trying  to  look  as  dignified  as  we  could.  But  it 
was  probably  a  relief  to  all  concerned  when  we  reached  the  little 
door  in  the  city  wall  which  leads  out  to  the  central  park. 

The  real  significance  of  this  incident  must  not  be  mistaken ;  in 
itself  it  was  of  no  very  great  moment,  but  as  indicating  the  utter 
contempt  felt  by  the  Tibetans  for  the  suzerain  power  of  Tibet,  it 
is  something  which  we  cannot  entirely  ignore.  The  more  we 
acquit  the  actual  guardians  of  the  temple  from  all  complicity  in  it, 
the  more  spontaneous  and  popular  does  this  outburst  of  indig- 
nation against  the  normal  overlords  of  Tibet  become.  Even  when 
their  suzerainty  was  supposed  to  be  supported  by  the  presence  of 
our  troops  outside,  it  was  possible  that  this  could  occur  in  the 
heart  of  Lhasa,  and  it  is  in  itself  a  convincing  proof  that  no  action 
of  the  Chinese  with  regard  to  Tibet  will,  in  the  future,  have  any 
real  importance,  or  be  regarded  by  the  Tibetans  as  binding  upon 
themselves  in  any  way. 

This  was  my  last  sight  of  the  interior  of  Lhasa,  and  I  am  not 
sorry  that  it  should  have  been  so — after  this,  anything  and  every- 
thing would  have  been  but  an  anti-climax.  On  the  following  day 
before  dawn  I  set  off  on  my  long  ride  back  to  India,  carrying  de- 
spatches both  to  the  Viceroy  and  to  the  Home  Government. 


CHAPTER  XX 

THE  RIDE   FROM   LHASA  TO   INDIA 

I  LEFT  Lhasa  just  before  the  dawn  on  the  morning  of  the 
15th  of  August,  passing  out  toward  the  western  end  of  the 
plain,  then  still  enshrouded  in  darkness,  but  spanned  by  the  most 
beautiful  rainbow  I  have  ever  seen  in  my  life.  The  Potala,  rising 
straight  in  front  of  me  as  I  left  the  Lha-lu  house,  was  distinct 
enough  against  the  growing  amber  of  the  south-eastern  sky. 
There  had  been  snow  in  the  night,  and  a  white  pall  came  far  down 
the  mountain-sides  all  round.  The  greenery  had  not  yet  begun  to 
detach  itself  from  the  darkness,  but  the  road  was  clear  enough, 
and  after  gaining  the  main  road  by  the  causeway  across  the 
marsh,  I  turned  to  the  right  and  set  off  with  the  escort. 

It  is  a  curious  thing  that,  on  the  whole,  I  have  found  almost 
more  interest  taken  in  this  lonely  return  journey  of  mine  than  in 
anything  else  that  occurred  during  the  seven  months  of  my  stay 
in  Tibet ;  yet  the  story  is  simple  enough.  There  were  two  reasons 
why  I  went  as  fast  as  possible.  The  first  was  that  I  was  carrying 
despatches  both  to  the  Viceroy  at  Simla  and  to  the  Home  Govern- 
ment. Another  was  that  there  was  a  certain  practical  value  in 
knowing  exactly  how  fast  mounted  men,  not  unduly  pressing 
their  horses,  could,  with  kit,  travel  from  Darjeeling  to  Lhasa  or 
from  Lhasa  to  Darjeeling.  The  distance,  if  a  perfectly  straight 
course  can  be  kept,  is  390  miles,  but,  from  one  reason  or  another, 
the  total  amount  that  I  had  to  cover  was  about  400  miles.  For 
example,  four  miles  were  lost  over  the  crossing  of  the  Tsang-po 
alone.     The  military  authorities  in  India  had  issued  instructions 

397 


398  THE  OPENING  OF  TIBET 

that  I  was  to  be  assisted  in  every  possible  way.  Had  it  not  been, 
in  fact,  for  the  kindly  co-operation  and  hel